The boss of transport giant FirstGroup has affirmed the company’s commitment to keeping its headquarters in Aberdeen after losing control of the ScotRail franchise.
Tim O’Toole vowed the company would remain in its historic home after local MSP Kevin Stewart wrote to the bus and rail firm about rumours he had heard that First may relocate.
In his letter, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central said he was “disappointed” that First was “unsuccessful” in winning the Scot Rail tender exercise earlier this year after running it for more than a decade.
He added: “Since that decision was announced I have heard on a number of occasions from various sources that FirstGroup may be considering relocating their global head office function from Aberdeen.
“I do not need to explain to you the history of the company or the long standing connection it has with Aberdeen, but I would be hugely disappointed if one of the only global non-oil related companies based in the city were to move its headquarters.”
The Scottish Government handed the running of the network to Dutch rival Abellio, which will take over from April 1.
Mr O’Toole said: “We appreciate Kevin Stewart’s kind words about FirstGroup and our operation of the ScotRail franchise.
“It goes without saying that we share his disappointment that we will not be able to build on our many successes in running Scotland’s railway over the past decade.
“Understandably we must always ensure our overheads are appropriate for the size of the business, but we have no plans to move our global headquarters from Aberdeen.”
FirstGroup has faced a number of disappointments in recent months after it also lost a bid to take over the East Coast Mainline, which was snapped up by Stagecoach Group in partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group
First has also lost its Caledonian Sleeper services to Serco, failed in its bid for the Essex Thameside contract and seen its Capital Connect operation in London swallowed up as part of the larger Thameslink franchise, awarded to Govia.
But the transport giant was cheered after it heard it could be running the Great Western franchise until at least March 2019 under a UK Government extension deal.