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Brian Souter

brian souter, brian souter stagecoach
Sir Brian Souter born 5 May 1954 is a Scottish businessman and philanthropist With his sister, Ann Gloag, he founded the Stagecoach Group of bus and rail operators He also founded the bus and coach operator Megabus, the train operating company South West Trains, his investments company Souter Holdings Ltd and the Souter Charitable Trust

Souter has also been politically active in Scotland, and supports the Scottish National Party financially In 2000, when the Scottish Executive proposed to repeal Section 2A of the Local Government Act, which prevented local authorities from "promoting homosexuality", Souter started the Keep the Clause campaign to oppose their plans, spending one million pounds of his own money to organise a private referendum across Scotland This campaign and other controversial statements have led opponents to accuse him of homophobia

In 2011 he was awarded a knighthood for services to transport and the voluntary sector2 The honour was criticised by Scottish Labour Party politicians and by gay rights campaigners


  • 1 Life and career
    • 11 Childhood and education
    • 12 Stagecoach
    • 13 South West Trains
    • 14 Megabus
    • 15 Souter Investments
      • 151 Highland Global Transport
      • 152 InMotion Group
    • 16 Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • 2 Political activity
    • 21 Section 28
    • 22 Donations to the SNP
  • 3 Charitable work
  • 4 Honours and awards
    • 41 Knighthood
  • 5 Personal life
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Life and careeredit

Childhood and educationedit

Souter was born in the Scottish town of Perth His father was a bus driver and as a child Brian often travelled on bus routes with his father3 At school he developed an interest in economics and accounts, about which he later said, "Changing my timetable from maths to include economics and accounts was one of the best things I’ve ever done"4

On leaving school, he studied at the Abertay University to become a commerce teacher5 On completion he studied at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, where he graduated with a CA Diploma in Accountancy and Economics Following his graduation Souter became a Chartered Accountant at Arthur Andersen & Co


Stagecoach Manchester bus

Using his father's redundancy money, with his sister Ann Gloag and his brother-in-law Robin Gloag he established the Stagecoach Group in 1980, running buses from Dundee to London6 Expansion continued, and in the early 1990s Stagecoach acquired National Bus Company subsidiaries in Cumberland and Hampshire, and the East Midlands, Ribble, Southdown and United Counties companies Stagecoach also bought bus operations in Scotland, Newcastle and London, with Manchester being added a few years later7 In 1993, Stagecoach was valued at £134 million and was floated on the London Stock Exchange to access capital for new opportunities for buses and trains overseas

By the mid 1990s, Stagecoach developed its interests in Australia and New Zealand The company further expanded with the purchase of Citybus, an operator of buses and ferries in Hong Kong, and Coach USA, the largest bus and coach operator in the USA and Canada8dubious – discuss Souter became Chief Executive, and later sold off much of Coach USAcitation needed

Following the deregulation of bus services in the United Kingdom, Stagecoach bought a number of the new small bus companies and ran free or low fare buses to put local rivals out of business6 In Darlington, Stagecoach subsidiary Busways offered bounties to recruit drivers from the existing bus service and offered free buses to deter the rival preferred bidder from taking over that service This practice was deemed as "predatory, deplorable and against the public interest" according to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission910

In 2009, Souter received a £16m bonus Stating "it was felt that in the present economic climate it would not be right for any individual to pocket a bonus package of £16million", he donated £900,000 to his own charity, the Souter Charitable Trust, which assists humanitarian projects in the UK and overseas Most of the remainder was given to the staff pension fund1112

In August 2012, it was announced that Souter would become Chairman of Stagecoach Group on 1 May 2013, finance director Martin Griffiths replacing Souter as CEO13

South West Trainsedit

South West Trains Class 444

Shortly after Souter floated Stagecoach on the London Stock Exchange, he turned his attention to British railways Initial experiments consisted of a Scotland to London service branded Stagecoach Rail with carriages attached to the Caledonian Sleeper During the privatisation of British Rail, Stagecoach bid successfully to operate the South West Trains franchise from 1996 followed by the Island Line Trains later the same year Stagecoach successfully bid to retain both when retendered in 2001 and 200614

In 1998, Stagecoach purchased a 49% shareholding in Virgin Rail Group that operated the CrossCountry and West Coast franchises15 In 2007, Stagecoach commenced operating the East Midlands Trains franchise16 In April 2015, Virgin Trains East Coast in which Stagecoach holds a 90% share commenced operating the InterCity East Coast franchise17


In 2003, Souter added the bus and coach operator Megabus to the group18 With its slogan "Low Cost Inter City Travel Serving Europe", it offered discounted travel across the UK and Europe In 2012 it operated in 31 cities in the UK with a turnover in excess of £2 billion, with annual profits of over £250 million19

In April 2013 Souter announced a new Megabus overnight sleeper service from Scotland to London The sleeper coaches cost £5 million to build, and have 53 leather seats which can be converted into 42 bunk beds Passengers receive a onesie for sleeping in during the trip20

Souter Investmentsedit

Souter has more than 200 private investments, which are managed by his company, Souter Investments They include stakes in insurance specialists esure and Gocomparecom In October 2010, Souter Investments reported that the value of its portfolio had risen by 41% over the preceding three years, to £400 million21

Highland Global Transportedit

PolskiBus Van Hool Astromega TD927

Souter and his sister Ann Gloag formed Highland Global Transport in 2012 It owns a portfolio of transport related investments valued at more than £600million22 including:

  • Stagecoach Group
  • Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri, a ferry operator on the Bosphoros and Sea of Marmara, Turkey held by HGT shareholders direct
  • PolskiBus and PolskiBusGold an intercity coach service operator in Poland
  • Alexander Dennis, a bus and coach manufacturer in UK, Asia and North America
  • Argent Energy, a biodiesel manufacturer
  • Sunseeker, a luxury motor yacht manufacturer
  • OnniBuscom, an intercity coach operator in Finland
  • SuperBuscom, an intercity coach operator in Baltic states

InMotion Groupedit

ManaBuscom Kiwi Bus Builders bodied Volvo B11R

Highland Global Transport has purchased and established a number of subsidiaries in New Zealand In August 2015, these were brought together under the one umbrella as the InMotion Group with 340 buses and coaches and 17 ferries232425

  • Mana Coach Services, an urban bus operator in Wellington
  • Howick & Eastern Buses, an urban bus operator in Auckland
  • Fullers Group, operates commuter and tourist ferry services on Auckland Harbour and Hauraki Gulf
  • ManaBuscom, an inter-city coach operator
  • Naked Bus, an inter-city coach operator
  • Reesby Buses, 40 vehicle coach operator

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotlandedit

In April 2015, Souter was officially appointed Vice President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, alongside newly appointed President, Jim Pettigrew26 Souter, who qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1984, was the sole nominee for the vice-president role It puts him in line to become president in two years’ time

Political activityedit

Section 28edit

Section 28 protestor with a Stagecoach Manchester bus in July 2000

In 2000, when the Scottish Government were planning to abolish Section 28 laws, which forbade local authorities from "intentionally promoting homosexuality", Souter was the prominent leader of the Keep the Clause campaign to prevent its abolition In Scotland, where Section 28 was known as clause 2A, Souter spent £1 million on the first privately funded postal referendum across Scotland to gauge public opinion A spokesman for Souter stated "He is not in this for personal glory He is fighting this battle because he is a father and committed Christian"27

3,970,712 ballot papers were posted out and 318% valid votes were returned, a turn out rate lower than any Scottish national election 868% were in favour of keeping Clause 28, 132% in favour of repeal27

Souter pointed out that the number of people who voted to keep the clause exceeded the number of votes cast for any single political party in Scotland at any election over the preceding ten years,citation needed although Scottish voters usually choose from four main parties, not two options The campaign was ultimately unsuccessful

Souter's campaign group approached the Electoral Reform Society to organise the ballot through its ballot services subsidiary The society refused the request as it believed the poll "would not be a legitimate democratic exercise to ask people to give an opinion on the repeal of Section 28 without knowing the detail of what would replace it"28 Many groups hostile to Souter's stance had called for a public boycott of the poll, and accordingly claimed that as only a minority voted this was a defeat for Souter and his supporters Mainstream politicians, including the Scottish National Party which Souter has supported largely ignored his poll and disputed whether the result was a true reflection of public opinion, with the Scottish Executive stating that the public had been fed a diet of "misinformation and lies" by Souter's campaign group27 The Communities Minister, Wendy Alexander MSP, criticised the poll, stating "I think what is significant about today's ballot is that two out of three voters rejected, or binned or simply ignored this glorified opinion poll"29 Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell stated that "Brian Souter’s support for Section 28 is the moral equivalent of the business-funded campaign to maintain racial segregation in the Deep South of the USA in the 1950s" Tatchell said that Souter's campaign was "hateful" and that it is clear that he was using his vast fortune to try to keep a cruel and "bigoted law" intact30

Donations to the SNPedit

Souter is a major financial supporter of the Scottish National Party SNP In March 2007, he donated £500,000, citing an imbalance of funding within Scottish politics31 He stated that it was his intention to redress an imbalance in funding: "as long as I can remember, the case for the union has been hugely financed by cash from London, while the case for independence has lacked resources I hope my donation will help redress this imbalance"32 Following the donation, SNP leader Alex Salmond was criticised for "pandering to homophobia" by accepting the donation32 - particularly as the party had just opposed the right for gay couples to be given equal treatment by Catholic adoption agencies and had snubbed a gay rights debate in January 200732 Salmond thanked Souter for his support, calling him "one of the outstanding entrepreneurs of his generation"32 One month later, in April 2007, the SNP's commitment made at the party's 2006 conference to re-regulate the bus network was dropped from the 2007 manifesto, although the SNP denied any direct link33

In February 2011 Souter again pledged financial support for the SNP, promising to match every pound they raised with a donation of up to £500,000 Announcing his support he said Salmond and the SNP deserved a second term in office3435 The SNP won a resounding victory in the election with Salmond being returned unopposed as First Minister36

The BBC reported in August 2014 that Souter had donated £1 million to the campaign for independence37

Charitable workedit

In 1992 Souter and his wife set up the Souter Charitable Trust, which assists humanitarian projects in the UK and overseas, especially, but not exclusively, those with a Christian emphasis38 Projects include the prevention of malaria and supplying daily meals to school children in Africa According to its website, the trust has awarded over 2,700 grants worth more than £20 million39

Groups funded annually by the trust include Tearfund, The Message Trust, Oasis Trust and Jam International40

Honours and awardsedit

In 1989 Souter received an award from the Scottish Business Achievement Award Trustcitation needed

In 1997 he was granted an honorary degree from Strathclyde University41

In 1998 he was awarded the Scottish Entrepreneur Award42

In 1999 he received his second honorary degree, from Abertay University43

In 2004 he was honoured with the Businessman of the Year award at the Insider Elite Awards44

In 2008 he was given a Special Recognition Award for services to the bus industry45

In June 2010 he was given a Special Career Service Award at the "Talent In Mobility" Awards, part of the European Mobility Exhibition held in Paris for the public transport industry46

In October 2010 he was awarded the Ernst & Young UK Master Entrepreneur of the Year47

In 2011 he was presented with an outstanding achievement award at the 2011 Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Business Star Awards48

On 18 April 2012 he was inducted into the British Travel and Hospitality Industry Hall of Fame, the first public transport entrepreneur to receive the honour49


Souter was knighted in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to transport and the voluntary sector505151 This proved controversial, and was criticised by Scottish Labour MP Cathy Jamieson, who suggested a link between the knighthood and the large amounts of money he has donated to the Scottish National Party In a public statement, Jamieson said: "The First Minister and his party must look seriously at the relationship they have developed with wealthy individuals handing them large sums of cash The public will rightly be asking what’s next on Mr Souter’s shopping list"52 Salmond denied any wrongdoing in the matter and referred himself for investigation after calls for a probe by Scottish MP Jim Sheridan An independent report, conducted by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, cleared Salmond of any wrongdoing, asserting that "There appears to me to have been no breach of the ministerial code by Alex Salmond as First Minister and he should be wholly exonerated of any breach"53

Souter's knighthood was also criticised by gay rights campaigners, who felt that the honour was insulting towards the gay community and was effectively rewarding homophobia, given Souter's past campaigning A petition to have the knighthood withdrawn received 5000 signatures by July 201154

Personal lifeedit

In 1998, Souter described English Northerners who make up a considerable proportion of his customers as "the beer-drinking, chip-eating, council house-dwelling, old Labour-voting masses"555657

Souter lives in Perth, Scotland with his wife and four children He is a member of the Church of the Nazarene, and attends Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Perth6

In April 2014 he was included in the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List as the 118th richest person in Britain, with a fortune of £104 billion1


  1. ^ a b "Sunday Times Rich List" The Sunday Times page 33 26 April 2014  |access-date= requires |url= help
  2. ^ "Brian Souter knighted in Queen's birthday honours" BBC News 2011-06-11 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  3. ^ intervoew on Radio New Zealand, 2014-11-18
  4. ^ "Childhood" Briansoutercom Retrieved 2013-10-25 
  5. ^ "Abertay University, Dundee - A-Z Unis & Colleges - Getting Into University" London: The Independent 2011-05-01 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  6. ^ a b c "Brian Souter: Stagecoach's straightman" BBC News 2000-01-21 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  7. ^ "Bus History | Magicbus | National Bus" Brian Souter Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  8. ^ "Stagecoach pays pounds 121bn for largest US bus operator" The Independent London 1999-06-15 Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  9. ^ Glenda Cooper 1995-12-24 "Stagecoach set record of shame ful record of shame - Home News - UK" London: The Independent Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  10. ^ "The supply of bus services in the north-east of England" Competition Commission Archived from the original on 4 February 2012 Retrieved 5 February 2012 
  11. ^ "Stagecoach boss gives his £16m bonus to staff and charity" The Daily Record Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  12. ^ "Faith in Community Scotland" Faith in Community Scotland Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  13. ^ "Stagecoach CEO Brian Souter to become chairman next year" Reuterscom 22 August 2012 Retrieved 2012-08-22 
  14. ^ Stagecoach wins railway franchise BBC News 22 September 2006
  15. ^ "Virgin passengers get 'better deal'" BBC News 7 October 1998
  16. ^ Stagecoach Group welcomes East Midlands rail franchise win Stagecoach Group 22 June 2007
  17. ^ Stagecoach and Virgin win East Coast mainline rail franchise BBC News 27 November 2014
  18. ^ "Stagecoach entrepreneur Brian Souter still as driven as ever" The Courier Dundee Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  19. ^ "Annual Report and Financial Statements 2012" PDF Stagecoach Group Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  20. ^ "Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter shows the way to Onesie Day" Daily Record 2013-04-29 Retrieved 2013-11-07 
  21. ^ "Souter Investments" Web-marketsnet Retrieved 2013-10-25 
  22. ^ About us on Highland Global Transport website, viewed 2014-08-28
  23. ^ Continued Expansion in New Zealand as Souter Holdings becomes InMotion Group Souter Holdings 19 August 2015
  24. ^ Sir Brian Souter's investment company extends presence in New Zealand The Herald 19 August 2015
  25. ^ Souter adds Reesby to expanding fleet Bay of Plenty Times 19 August 2015
  26. ^ Huband, Graham 2015-04-25 "Jim Pettigrew and Sir Brian Souter lead major Scottish accountancy body Icas" The Courier Archived from the original on 2015-04-27 
  27. ^ a b c "SCOTLAND | Poll supports S28 retention" BBC News 2000-05-30 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  28. ^ "SCOTLAND | Souter poll hits major setback" BBC News 2000-03-31 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  29. ^ "Keep the Clause: the legacy - News - Scotsmancom" Scotlandonsundayscotsmancom 2005-03-06 Retrieved 2012-02-05 permanent dead link
  30. ^ "Think Again, Brian Souter" Peter Tatchell 2000-01-16 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  31. ^ "UK | Scotland | Stagecoach tycoon donates to SNP" BBC News 2007-03-17 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  32. ^ a b c d Paul Hutcheon 2007-03-17 "Souter jumps back on SNP bandwagon with £1/2 m donation" Herald Scotland Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  33. ^ "SNP under attack after bus U-turn - Edinburgh, East & Fife - Scotsmancom" Businessscotsmancom 2007-04-23 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  34. ^ "£500,000 war chest for Alex Salmond - News" Scotsmancom 2011-02-12 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  35. ^ "Brian Souter Announces His Donation To The SNP" Briansoutercom 2011-02-13 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  36. ^ Black, Andrew 2011-05-18 "BBC News - SNP leader Alex Salmond re-elected as first minister" bbccouk Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  37. ^ "BBC News - Scottish independence: Sir Brian Souter donates £1m to SNP" BBC News Retrieved 3 November 2014 
  38. ^ "Souter Charitable Trust: Grant Guidelines" Souter Charitable Trust Retrieved 2013-10-25 
  39. ^ "Brian Souter | Souter Charitable Trust | About" Souter Charitable Trust Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  40. ^ "Souter Charitable Trust: Projects" Souter Charitable Trust Retrieved 2013-10-25 
  41. ^ "Biographies — The Entrepreneurial Exchange" Entrepreneurial-exchangecouk Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  42. ^ "Glasgow Business Club" Glasgow Business Club 2012-02-23 Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  43. ^ "CRIEFF News Archive" Crieffwordpresscom Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  44. ^ Custom byline text:  Ben Griffiths 2004-10-08 "Baxter and Souter lauded for successful recipes" Herald Scotland Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  45. ^ "Bus Companies Celebrates Award Success" TravelNorthEastcouk 19 November 2008 Retrieved 2013-11-07 
  46. ^ "Transports Publics 2012 - ‘Talent in mobility’ awards" Transportspublics-expocom Archived from the original on 9 October 2010 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  47. ^ Tim Sharp, City Editor 2010-06-24 "Stagecoach boss warns against cutting OAP free travel" Herald Scotland Retrieved 2012-02-05 CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list link
  48. ^ "Star Awards 2011" Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Retrieved 2013-10-28 
  49. ^ "Sir Brian Souter enters British Travel Industry Hall of Fame" stagecoachcom 2012-04-18 Retrieved 2012-04-19 
  50. ^ "No 59808" The London Gazette Supplement 11 June 2011 p 2 
  51. ^ a b "Queen's birthday honours list: Knights | UK news" London: The Guardian 2011-06-11 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  52. ^ HELEN McARDLE 2011-08-07 "Row grows over honour for Sir Brian" Herald Scotland Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  53. ^ "Alex Salmond cleared of any wrong-doing in knighthood nomination for Stagecoach tycoon Brian Souter" The Daily Record 2011-11-28 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  54. ^ Dalberto, Lorenzo 2011-07-05 "Gay students oppose Brian Souter’s Knighthood" deadlinenewscouk Retrieved 2013-11-12 
  55. ^ From the archive 1998-01-05 "A wrong turning Stagecoach boss's comments are unwise" Herald Scotland Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  56. ^ "Suffering from foot-in-mouth | Business | The Observer" London: Observerguardiancouk 19 October 2003 Retrieved 2012-02-05 
  57. ^ Margaret Stead "Weblogs as a Career Tool - Career Coach Newsletter October 2003 from" Careersnetcom Retrieved 2012-02-05 

External linksedit

  • Quotations related to Brian Souter at Wikiquote
  • Brian Souter - Official Website
  • Souter Investments
  • Souter Charitable Trust
  • Stagecoach Bus
  • Talent in Mobility Awards

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