Skills Motor Coaches

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Skills Motor Coaches's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Skills Motor Coaches is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Nigel Skill, group chairman,
with fellow directors Simon Skill
(right, finance) and Pete Hallan
(left, operations)
The Skills Motor Coaches
head office
Skills Motor Coaches was founded in 1919 by the
grandfather of current chairman, Nigel Skill, in Radford, a
suburb of Nottingham. Nigel’s grandfather initially worked
delivering fish; he first broke into the transport sector when he
cleared out his van and started taking people to and from work
in the mornings and afternoons. After the war, he purchased
an army surplus van, and it was there that the business really
began. When Nigel bought the business from his father in 1987,
they were actively competing against one another; with his son
now working alongside him, Nottinghamshire has seen four
generations and almost 100 years of the Skill family breaking
into the local, national and international transport markets.
We cover everything that you could do with a bus or a coach. A large part of our
business comes from holiday coaching – we take passengers across both Britain
and Europe, working in tandem with a number of the largest holiday coaching
companies and tour operators in the country. These include PGL Holidays, Hotels &
More and JacTravel, to name a few, and we are also one of the main contractors
for Leger Holidays. Over the past few years, we have worked closely with them to
help them pioneer and continually develop their Luxuria range of coach holidays,
which require vehicles of incredibly high specifications for luxury tours.
Other than holidays, we also provide a range of coach hire options for local
businesses, individuals and schools. We work extensively for the University of
Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, providing 15 to 20 dedicated
vehicles for their annual RAG Raids alongside offering travel to and from sports
»Group chairman: Nigel Skill
»Established in 1919
»Based in Radford,
»Services: Coach hire and rental
for a broad array of sectors
»No. of employees: 350
»No. of vehicles: 160
»Almost half the Skills Motor
Coaches fleet have Euro
6-compliant engines
»Work with the University of
Nottingham and Nottingham
Trent University for their RAG
Skills Motor Coaches
matches for various clubs. Businesses
often use our services for conference
work, shuttling people between, for
instance, a hotel and the conference
venue, and we are one of the largest
contractors for National Express,
operating 34 vehicles for them 24/7,
every day of the year.
With a fleet of 160 vehicles and
just over 350 staff, the services we
provide are varied, all-encompassing
and always specialised for a client or
contract’s needs.
Fair, open and honest
After acquiring the business from
my father in 1987, my grandfather’s
only surviving sister wrote me a letter
expressing her delight concerning the
fact that Skills Motor Coaches was
staying in the family. She reminded me
not to forget the ethos upon which
my grandfather had founded the
business – fair and honest dealings
in every aspect of the company. My
grandfather didn’t do anything unless
he was prepared to do it well, and to
do it in an open and just manner. It’s
a great basis of values from which to
build, and we have continued with
this philosophy in mind. Although we
do have a corporate values statement,
a mission and a vision, this is what it
can all be reduced to: being fair, open
This philosophy has allowed us to
sustain steady growth over the past 31
years, although we have seen a real
spike since 2015. Three years ago, we
were turning over around £8 million
– it has since increased to over £20
million. This has been made possible
through a number of acquisitions
– predominantly of local operators –
and the National Express contract we
tendered for and won in 2015. These
developments have focused the need
to put a robust management team in
place to ensure a steady, stable future
for all involved with the business.
Stronger management
Our work with National Express,
a massively successful corporate
organisation, required us to put in
place our own capable infrastructure
to mirror their own. It’s been a huge,
beneficial learning curve, which has
sharpened our analytical edge and
company structure. This process has
proven, ultimately, to be a perfect
foundation and platform for recent
and future growth.
To deal with this expansion, however,
changes were necessary at the top of
the business. At the beginning of the
year, we recruited a human resources
manager from Tesco. She took a top-
down look at our business and helped
us to recruit a further four members
of management staff who did not
previously work in the industry, two of
whom came from the armed forces,
and one from UPS.
New disciplines and unorthodox
experience have helped to bring fresh
scope to a traditional business model.
It’s very exciting.
Happy travellers
didn’t do
unless he was
prepared to
do it well
Highlighting best practice
Saturated with legislation
With GDPR having come into effect
earlier this year, we have experienced
a massive, systematic roll-out of new
staff training and database changes.
To provide all appropriate team
members with a full, comprehensive
understanding of this new swathe of
data compliance is an onerous task;
even the simplest of things, such as
providing a driver with his work ticket
for the day, must be totally secure.
It’s made things considerably more
difficult – getting the people on the
ground to understand the impact and
importance of these data regulations
is no easy feat. Although it has been
tough, GDPR has helped us accelerate
the process of becoming paperless
across the board – so it’s not been
Coping with new environmental
legislation has been a difficult
endeavour, also. The requirement for
Euro 6 designations has meant that
about 50 per cent of our fleet are now
equipped with compliant engines. The
vehicles themselves, however, pose
the greatest challenge with regards
to reliability – the technology is not as
wellproven as it perhaps could have
been, and upskilling our technicians
just to identify and diagnose vehicular
faults has been a monumental
undertaking. It’s a completely new
area which came as a total surprise
– these vehicles arrived with minimal
information from manufacturers, and
so it’s been a case of trial and error
ever since.
A growing, acquisitive future
We hope to continue on our
impressive growth trajectory, and we
are actively looking at a large-scale
acquisition to help propel us further
forwards. Having grown rapidly over a
relatively short period of time, we are
now also looking into the organisation
at every level to ensure we benefit
from all incremental gains that come
from a result of running a much
tighter ship.
We are open to every potential
situation that could arise, every
potential problem, and looking at what
we could do to prevent and monitor
these potential bumps in the road.
We are employing systems of best
practice in every area of the business,
continually updating our systems
and focusing first and foremost on
improving how we can best drive
quality – for our workforce as well as
our clients.
disciplines and
have helped
bring fresh
scope to a
model. It’s
very exciting
A modern, state-of-the-
art fleet

This article was sponsored by Skills Motor Coaches. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister