Having just launched the promising Targa 53, the British powerboat builder Fairline Boats called in administrators putting 450 jobs and the future of the company at great risk.
The boat builder was founded in 1963 and in its heyday designed, manufactured and distributed some 14 different sized motor yachts in the 10m to 24 m range through a network of 60 locations around the world. In 2013 the company made a loss on sales of €23.4 million which had slumped from 2012 by one-third to £56.8m.
In the closing months of last year Venture Capitalists Better Capital, the private equity group established by Jon Moulton, had sold the company to Wessex Bristol Investments; a company that had in its portfolio small yacht brands. But even they failed to fl oat the boat! Large scale redundancies have since been made although the administrators have retained a core team of workers to help trade the business, service existing orders and liaise with customers, suppliers and boat dealers.
This is not the first time Fairline has had its back against the wall. Better Capital acquired the brand from the private equity group 3i, in 2011 when demand for mid size yachts was contracting in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. At the time of that acquisition, 3i had stated that Fairline had been a loss-making concern for several consecutive years and had tried unsuccessfully to sell the company in 2010.
Then two days before the start of the London Boat Show, Princess Yachts announced that it plans to shed 350 workers from a workforce of 2,000 plus. Describing the losses are part of a “major restructuring and investment programme.” The company went onto say the move was part of a largescale restructuring and investment programme. The job losses will affect the company’s back offi ce, development and production divisions as it strives to improve productivity in the face of “unprecedented challenges”.
The company says that in the past it maintained higher staff levels than were needed and had done so during the development stages of new models. The company reported a loss of £11.3m on turnover of £239.5m for 2014, compared to the profit of £4.8m it made in 2013.
Proving how contrary the British yacht building market is, Sunseeker International announced, on the eve of the opening of the London Boat Show, that it was looking to recruit 225 new skilled staff, an increase on its original plan for 100 new employees to support the introduction of several new models planned for 2016.