Supply chain and logistics leader Imperial Logistics has acquired a majority stake in Interstate Bus Lines, the largest commuter bus operation in the Free State.
This acquisition is in line with Imperial Logistics’ strategy to diversify into other, related industries, reveals Chief Executive Officer, Imperial Logistics South Africa, Nico van der Westhuizen. “We have been seeking to expand the group’s presence in the general transportation industry in South Africa, and identified a passenger bus service as an excellent fit with Imperial’s current core business activities and culture.” This venture is in alignment with Imperial Logistics’ strategy to acquire new capabilities in order to consistently deliver stakeholder value, he adds.
Interstate’s primary business is providing public transport services on behalf of the provincial government to commuters in and around Bloemfontein. Founded in 1975, the operation comprises a fleet of 253 commuter buses and 32 luxury coaches, and has a staff complement of 800 employees. Interstate transports approximately 50 000 passengers daily and its buses travel approximately 17 million kilometres a year.
“A well-established company that is strongly positioned in the Free State public transport sector and enjoys an excellent reputation in the industry, Interstate Bus Lines is an ideal vehicle for Imperial’s entry into the commuter bus services market,” van der Westhuizen states. “The business boasts a sound financial track record, stable and experienced management team, and its model has the potential to be successfully duplicated in other areas,” he adds.
Interstate Bus Lines is also well-placed from a BEE perspective, with minority shareholders that include employees, drivers selected for an enterprise development initiative and the South African National Taxi Council, van der Westhuizen notes. He says that Imperial’s acquisition of a 55% interest in the business reflects the group’s commitment to maintaining its leading position in the critical area of transformation, and to pursuing and enhancing all facets of empowerment. The company has a Merseta-approved technical training centre. “Like Imperial, which constantly strives to be recognised as a leader in the development of human capital, Interstate’s commitment to skills development has been a key element of the bus lines’ successes,” he says.