Bleak Christmas for 380 workers in Oundle and Corby as boat maker flounders

Southampton boat show 2015 Launch of the Fairline Targa 53GT EMN-150913-085438009
Southampton boat show 2015 Launch of the Fairline Targa 53GT EMN-150913-085438009
  • Some 381 staff at Fairline Boat lose their jobs three weeks before Christmas
  • Boat maker is put back up for sale
  • 69 staff kept to fulfil existing orders

About 380 workers at luxury boat maker Fairline Boats are facing a bleak Christmas after their jobs were axed.

Administrators of the company, which has bases in Oundle and Corby, are keeping just 69 members of the 450 workforce to service existing orders while the firm is sold.

We shall be retaining a core team of staff to help service orders and continue operations where possible.

Alistair Massey, joint administrator

The return to the market comes just two months after the 52-year-old Fairline Boats had been sold to equity firm Wessex Bristol, which bought it for a deferred payment of about £2 million from Better Capital, the owners for the last four years.

Better Capital, run by entrepreneur Jon Moulton, had valued Fairline Boats at £13.5 million.

However, just a day after the purchase in October, Wessex Bristol had announced that 109 staff were to be temporarily laid off.

Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory were appointed joint administrators to Fairline Boats on December 2.

They have been carrying out a detailed assessment of the firm’s financial situation.

Mr Massey said: “Since the appointment of administrators our focus has been on liaising with staff, customers, suppliers and agents to ensure value can be realised from servicing existing orders whilst we explore options for the business including marketing it for sale.

“We shall be retaining a core team of staff to help service orders and continue operations where possible.

“We are liaising with staff trade unions and actively assisting all those members of staff who have regrettably had to lose their jobs and ensuring they make timely claims to the Redundancy Payment Service.

“The business is being marketed for sale and we request interested parties to get in touch - Fairline is a proud brand and has an array of loyal customers.

“The joint administrators would like on behalf of Fairline to thank all involved for their support during this process.”

A statement by FRP Advisory adds: “We have retained 69 staff to help trade the business, service existing orders and liaise with customers, suppliers and boat dealers while engaging with interested parties as part of process to market the business and assets for sale.

“The majority of the retained staff are located at the company’s premises in Corby and Oundle, Northamptonshire, where it designs and manufactures a range of luxury boats, while a handful of staff remain to continue operations at a testing location in Ipswich, Suffolk.

“Prior to entering administration the company employed around 450 staff across its operations with the vast majority being divided between its Oundle and Corby factory sites.

“The joint administrators continue to liaise with staff trade unions and their representatives and are now assisting those members of staff who have been made redundant with the necessary support to submit timely claims to the Redundancy Payments Service.

“While work continues to service a number of orders across the business, the joint administrators remain focused on marketing the business for sale.”

Unite regional officer Mick Orpin said: “While not unexpected, the news today is a real financial body blow to staff facing a grim Christmas and who will be searching for new employment in the New Year. The adverse knock-on effects to the Northamptonshire economy cannot be underestimated.

“Unite is fully committed to helping our members who have been made redundant and assisting them submit their claims to the Redundancy Payments Office.

“It is Unite’s view that the loyal workforce are victims of appalling management ever since private equity firm Wessex Bristol acquired the company from private equity fund Better Capital just over two months ago.

“The workers have been sacrificed on the altar of uncaring capitalism; for example, the firm did not pay the employees’ pension contributions for the last three months, while deducting the contributions from staff pay packets.

“That said, it needs to be recognised that the luxury boats produced by Fairline Boats since 1963 are a top-of-the range premium product that have a viable and sustainable future with good management.

“We urge the administrators to redouble their efforts to find such a buyer for this company – Unite will be liaising with the administrators and leaving no stone unturned to achieve this goal.”

Last week, Unite called for an inquiry by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) into the workings of private equity firms, after the news that the firm had gone into administration.

Related:

Struggling Fairline Boats is put into administration

Union leaders demand talks with Fairline Boats’ bosses after workers laid off

Boat manufacturer at Peterborough enforces temporary layoff for some staff

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