Independent bus company Norfolk Green has been sold to a major national firm.
Norfolk Green has provided bus services across West Norfolk for almost 20 years but was last week purchased by Stagecoach Bus Holdings Ltd.
Managing director Ben Colson said the decision to sell “was not taken easily” and was made during his recovery from a sudden heart problem in the summer.
He said: “Over the years we have built a strong brand in the area with a much larger network of bus routes, attracted new customers to using the bus, and we have increased employment.
“The company goes forward into new hands in good shape, and will benefit from being owned by a major transport company.”
The firm currently runs around 70 buses and employs 160 people, up to eight of which in administration and payroll roles could be facing redundancy.
The Norfolk Green branding will remain on the buses and Stagecoach chief Andrew Dyer reassured customers that they will not notice the change.
He said: “Our message to our customers is that this is now Norfolk Green with nationwide back-up, not Norfolk Green disappearing and a new firm coming in. Customers on the street won’t see any difference.”
There is no intention to drop routes, increase ticket costs, outside of the usual annual review, and there are hopes of preserving a year-round Coasthopper service.
Robert Montgomery, the managing director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “Norfolk Green is an award-winning, high-quality bus operator. The business is well-run and has been successful in attracting more people to the benefits of bus travel.
“The acquisition will allow us to expand our operations in the east of England, where we have achieved good passenger growth by focusing on good value fares, investing in our networks and delivering punctual and reliable services.
“Our people are central to our growth plans and we are delighted to welcome our new employees to the business.”