The distribution of British built Optare buses has been thrown into turmoil in recent weeks with the company terminating the Australian distributor Patico and moving to install a new distributor.

In a letter to customers that Truck&Bus News has seen, the company states that it has ‘terminated its relationship with Patico with immediate effect and discussions with potential dealer partners in Australia and New Zealand have commenced’.

The letter states that Optare is expanding its presence and brand in Australia and New Zealand and will focus on building a comprehensive sales & after-sales network in the region as a first step.

The communication goes onto say that Optare will provide full support for vehicles in service during the transition and that former Patico employee and executive with former Higer distributor WMC, Shannon Taylor has ‘joined Optare to coordinate interim aftermarket support in territory with full factory back up from Optare in the UK’.

It is understood that Taylor departed Patico in early November for unstated reasons. T&BN has attempted to contact Mr Taylor but he has been unavailable for comment. He has told us any comment would come in a media statement expected from Optare in coming days.

T&BN understands that Patico was being run by Tony Fairweather, a company that was started by his father originally as the distributor for Irizar coaches. However it is understood the company relinquished that distributorship in late 2014. Along with Optare, Patico also distributes Plastisol buses and in particular its Bonito model which Patico showed at the last Sydney Bus Show 18 months ago, however T&BN has been told that Plastisol has recently filed for bankruptcy.

Its other brands include EVM and the Chinese brand Golden Dragon.

Optare says it is aiming to confirm its new network within the next 3 months.

Opare is the modern incarnation of Leyland buses and is these controlled and majority owned by Indian automotive group Ashok Leyland. It is understood the company has a number of public transport tenders pending for the supply of route buses in Australia and NZ