The UK’s second-largest bus
manufacturer, Optare plc, has gone into the leasing business with
new venture Optare Direct, aiming to provide its own finance and
leasing proposition to independent bus operators across

As well as providing standard leasing
and hire purchase products, Optare Direct will provide short-term
rental offerings, as well as products including refurbishment,
maintenance and parts provision. All funding will be done through
finance partners, who are yet to be revealed.

Formerly, Optare had run an exclusive
financing arrangement with Mistral Group, and although this has
come to an end, Mistral will still provide finance for a
considerable volume of Optare products.

Optare Direct is headed by Rick
Betton, who has worked previously with both Optare and Mistral, as
well as many other bus and coach industry companies during his
30-year career in the industry.

• Optare, which
specialises in 20 to 40 seat vehicles, produces nearly 700 vehicles
yearly at assembly sites in Blackburn and Leeds, and sells both to
the five major UK operators (including Stagecoach, Arriva, and
Go-Ahead), and to a wide range of independent operators running
fleets of 5 to 100 vehicles.