PROFITS at Greenock-based bus company McGill's are down by around £1.5m.

The firm - owned by local businessmen James and Sandy Easdale - has published its latest set of annual accounts, which also reveal that turnover was static at £39.5m - up by just £5,000 during the financial period from January 2 to December 31 in 2017.

According to the figures, profit before taxation fell by £1.6m, going from £2m to £384,000.

The company still made £107,500 after tax, although that is down by £1.4m year-on-year.

McGill's managing director, Ralph Roberts, has blamed the slump in profits on a drop in footfall caused by the struggling high street, rise of online shopping and availability of cheap parking, and rising costs, including on fuel.

Mr Roberts says traffic and roadworks are also a major factor.

He said: "2017 saw a continuation of the market conditions that prevailed in the two years prior.

"The decline of the high street and the increase of online activity has resulted in ongoing reductions in footfall. "Fuel price is still pre-2015 levels and this, along with plentiful and cheap car parking, has also contributed to footfall reductions.

"Ever worsening congestion and roadworks disruption is a major drag on the business in two ways: firstly, it causes significant productivity drops - the need to use more vehicles and people to deliver the same timetables and secondly, the longer journey times and uncertainty of arrival time are causing people to move away from the bus as an option to commute."

During the year, McGill's employed 814 staff - down by 17.

The company operates around 400 buses across more than 100 routes via its headquarters in Greenock and depots in Barrhead, Coatbridge, Inchinnan and Johnstone.

But Mr Roberts warned that the business is being 'stretched thin' and hinted that there may have to be cutbacks.

He also appealed to the powers-that-be at local and national level to step in and support the bus industry.

Mr Roberts said: "Our social commitment to the areas we do business in is being stretched thin, and we are inevitably rebalancing the business to reflect these market conditions.

"It is a frustration that the majority of factors causing increased cost and reduced income are external and outwith our control.

"Public policy at town hall and Scottish Government level needs to change if bus networks are going to be recognisable in five years' time."