Manchester Community Transport joins community transport giant HCT Group

Social enterprise HCT Group consolidated its position as the UK’s largest community transport operator by merging with Manchester Community Transport this week.

HCT Group predicts that its turnover will grow by £12m next year, from £50m to £62m. An HCT Group spokesman said that the growth will be partly due to the merger as well as “organic” growth.

Manchester Community Transport’s latest turnover was £3.9m.

Dai Powel HCT GroupHCT Group chief executive Dai Powell (left) said: “We are delighted to welcome a community transport provider of such renown into the Group. We believe that we can help MCT really achieve its potential, growing the organisation and increasing services.”

Manchester Community Transport has been operating since 1980. At the time of the merger it had 109 employees and a fleet of 67 vehicles. HCT Group stated that all of Manchester Community Transport’s current services would be maintained and that no jobs were under threat.

Nigel McKinney, managing director of Manchester Community Transport, said: “By joining one of the largest and most successful social enterprises in the UK, we have the opportunity to expand our services and build on our track record of delivering for the community in Manchester.”

Through the merger Manchester Community Transport says it aims to make its operations more financially sustainable over the long term. It will also have more opportunity to access investment and the operational and business expertise of HCT Group.

By joining one of the largest and most successful social enterprises in the UK, we have the opportunity to expand our services and build on our track record of delivering for the community in Manchester

HCT Group currently has 1,200 staff and a fleet of 625 vehicles. It operates a range of transport services including home-to-school trips, London red buses and social services operations in London, Bristol, Yorkshire and the Channel Islands.

HCT Group has grown through mergers and winning new contracts since it was founded in east London in 1982. For example, in March 2017, Social Access (formerly Bristol Dial-A-Ride) joined HCT Group. Bristol Community Transport joined in 2012. HCT Group won the contract to run Jersey’s bus services from 2013.

The community transport sector in the UK is made up of a wide range of organisations, many of them social enterprises. They range from large operators with hundreds of staff, such as HCT Group, to small volunteer-run village-based schemes.

In a recent social impact report, HCT Group referred to itself as “arguably the world’s leading transport social enterprise”.

Header image: Passengers on HCT Group's 812 service in London, by Jonathan Cole Photography.

SE100 reportTo find out more about the performance of the UK's social enterprise sector, see the latest NatWest SE100 Data Report, a sister initiative of Pioneers Post.