Union leaders call for government inquiry as Fairline Boats goes aground

Southampton boat show 2015 Launch of the Fairline Targa 53GT EMN-150913-085508009
Southampton boat show 2015 Launch of the Fairline Targa 53GT EMN-150913-085508009

Union officials have called for a government inquiry after luxury yacht builder Fairline Boats plunged into administration.

Officials of Unite are urging ministers to review the operations of equity firms in the wake of the Oundle-based boat builder’s plight.

This is devastating news for the workforce and their families.

Mick Orpin, Unite regional officer

Their demand comes just a day after it was announced that Fairline, which has 450 staff, had been handed over to joint administrators.

Yet just two months ago, the luxury boat builder, which has was founded 52 years ago and has bases in Oundle and Corby, was bought for an undisclosed sum by equity firm Wessex Bristol.

Wessex Bristol bought the manufacturer from another equity firm Better Capital, which had managed the company for four years.

Unite regional officer Mick Orpin said the two months Wessex Bristol had been in charge were marked by a refusal to communicate and that even requests for meetings with management by Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Tom Pursglove had fallen on deaf ears.

He said: “This is completely unacceptable and Unite calls on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to hold an inquiry into the business activities of private equity firms, with special reference to Fairline Boats, a well-known Northamptonshire firm, established in 1963, which has now gone into administration.”

Mr Orpin plans to be at Oundle and Corby sites on Tuesday to talk to workforce.

He said: “This is devastating news for the workforce and their families in the run up to Christmas.

“It is a real blow to the Northamptonshire economy.

“We will be talking to the administrator this afternoon (Thursday) to see if a buyer can be found and jobs saved.

“We understand that there are orders in the pipeline.

“Basically, there is a sound business here.

“There has been a callous disregard for the workforce, such as not paying the employees’ pension contributions for the last three months.

“Unite will be giving maximum support to our members at this traumatic time.

“We understand that another boatbuilder, Sunseeker International, based in Poole, Dorset is seeking up to 100 workers with the skills similar to those employed at Fairline Boats.

“Unite will be talking to Sunseeker’s HR department as a matter of urgency.”


Struggling Fairline Boats is put into administration