Coronavirus: Luxury boat builder Fairline furloughs hundreds of staff as it scales back operations

Fairline Yachts.Fairline Yachts.
Fairline Yachts. | jpimedia
Luxury British boat builder Fairline Yachts has announced it is scaling back its operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with hundreds of staff furloughed for a minimum of three weeks.

The announcement from the Oundle firm comes a day after it robustly defended its decision to remain open during the crisis, highlighting the financial risk to the company which employs 560 people.

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In a statement this evening (Tuesday) it said it is “closely following the advice of the World Health Organization, Public Health England and the UK Government.

“Accordingly, 340 of Fairline’s employees will be classified as furloughed for an initial period of three weeks, starting from April 1. This will be reviewed and adjusted as the situation develops. All 340 furloughed employees are retained on Fairline’s payroll and remain employed.”

The firm added: “A skeleton team comprising of boat builders and a limited number of back office support roles will continue working on current boats in build.

“All staff working at the factory are adhering to new safeguarding measures. These include implementing social distancing with employees working within their own workstations and keeping at least two metres away from others. Breaks have been staggered to ensure maintaining safe distances is possible and Fairline’s already strict cleaning procedures have been enhanced to ensure there is continuous deep cleaning of the factory in place at all times.”

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Peter McNulty, chief operating officer at Fairline Yachts, yesterday issued a strong defence of the company’s decision to remain open during the pandemic, stating: “The primary reason we have stayed open to date is to help ensure Fairline Yachts survives this crisis.

“We took the decision to continue to fulfil our customer orders whilst we were still able to as failing to do so would have a severe knock-on effect to our global dealer network, who would then not be able to deliver on their contracts with their customers.

“Whilst non-essential retail businesses have been asked to close, manufacturing in Britain is being actively encouraged by the Government.”

Commenting this evening on the company’s decision to furlough staff - which will see them receive 80 per cent of their salary up to £2,500 a month - he said: “We’d like to thank our staff for their continued support during this challenging period.

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“Protecting their health and safety is our key concern, along with supporting our global dealer network and customers. By furloughing the majority of our team now we can weather the storm and safeguard these skilled roles for the future – ensuring we are well prepared for the inevitable bounce-back once restrictions are lifted.”