THEY are among the most recognisable vehicles on Hampshire roads.

But Black Velvet Travel’s fleet of purple buses will soon be under new management after the company was bought in a merger.

Hampshire bus mogul Philip Blair has agreed a deal to take over Velvet, assuming ownership of the company on May 1.

Financial details are not being released but Mr Blair, who also owns Xelabus, will acquire 100 per cent of the shares and become a director along with son Gareth.

The Blair family, who run Eastleigh-based Xelabus, will take over management of Velvet with immediate effect.

Mr Blair said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to take control of this well respected local business. While there will inevitably be changes, we hope that the benefits of the new arrangements will quickly become obvious to staff, customers and suppliers.”

Velvet was founded in November 2007 and is well known throughout the city for its fleet of purple buses.

Phil Stockley, managing director of Velvet, who is selling his 51 per cent stake in the company as part of the deal, added: “It has been huge fun building the company up over the last six years and we are proud of what we have achieved. But the company needs fresh impetus to move to the next level, and the Blairs are ideally placed to provide this.”

The company runs more than 15 services between Southampton, Eastleigh and Winchester but these could be reduced under new management with a rationalisation of Velvet’s network to follow.

Xelabus provides a series of specialist school and shopper services along with local routes.

The deal comes shortly after Xelabus took over a Velvet service from Chandler’s Ford to Barton Peveril College in January.