A SPECIALIST vehicle maker in Westhoughton has further strengthened its position with the buyout of a West Yorkshire rival.

Bosses at the Woodall Nicholson Group have announced their second major acquisition of 2019 with the purchase of Bradford's VCS Ltd.

All 49 current staff at VCS, which makes emergency services vehicles for the likes of both the East and West Midlands ambulance services, will be retained as part of the move.

Bosses at Woodall Nicholson, who were behind the April buyout of Scarborough-based JM Engineering, say it will be 'business as usual' at VCS in the coming weeks and months.

Frank Barrett, the group's chief executive, said: "This is a fantastic addition to the Woodall Nicholson (WN) family and provides additional growth opportunity for the group and we're delighted to add further expertise and resource to our existing skill set within the group.

"VCS Ltd is a long-established supplier to the emergency services focused organisations, both in the UK and internationally, bringing tremendous experience in the design and manufacture of specialist vehicles to the group,

"VCS combines innovation, craftsmanship and technical excellence to supply and support quality deployed product to critical markets in the UK."

The new addition will now form part of WN's CM specialist vehicle division.

And VCS managing directors Mark Kerrigan and Wayne Sullivan will continue to oversee operations over the Pennines, which first began nine-and-a-half years ago and includes the development of the UK's first electric ambulance.

In a joint statement, Mr Kerrigan and Mr Sullivan added: "Joining the Woodall Nicholson Group provides VCS with access to a huge pool of technical knowhow across the varying product sectors, coupled with access to a significant increase in capacity to satisfy the demands of the UK blue light sector.

" We can now accelerate our agenda on lightweight ambulance construction and innovative designs."