Boat builder in Oundle to axe 240 jobs as Covid and quarantine rules threaten to dry up orders

Luxury boat builder Fairline Yachts has announced it is to axe 240 jobs at its Oundle factory.

Boats under production at Fairline Yachts in Oundle.
Boats under production at Fairline Yachts in Oundle.

The redundancies were announced to staff today and have been blamed on the impact of coronavirus and Government quarantine rules for customers coming to the UK to view new boats.

It is understood the redundancies from the 455 members of staff will take effect from the end of the July, when the initial furlough period runs out.

The company currently has 302 staff on furlough.

But the job losses will affect all parts of the business, which means some furloughed staff might keep their jobs while some currently working may be made redundant.

Bosses say Fairline will continue to manufacture boats to meet the demand and fulfil customer orders.

Over the last three months, the company has manufactured 15 boats and expects to complete another six this month.

Peter McNulty, Fairline Yachts’ Chief Operating Officer, said: “In the second half of last year, we embarked on an aggressive recruitment drive in anticipation of the market buoyancy we had enjoyed over the past few years continuing.

“However, we, like many others, have been negatively affected by a sharp reduction in demand for luxury motoryachts as a direct result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Furthermore, the Government’s policy of quarantining UK arrivals is another hurdle to global businesses such as Fairline Yachts.

“It means that potential customers can’t visit the UK to view our boats and that UK based clients with their boats abroad are unable to access them without a lengthy quarantine period.

“Whilst we have continued to sell boats throughout this challenging time, this is unfortunately not in the volume we’d expect under normal circumstances.

“As a result, we are one of many businesses that need to re-shape in order to align with reduced market demand through the remainder of 2020 and beyond.

“Regrettably, 240 employees from across the company will be affected.

“The first consultation meeting will be held with employee representatives next week.

“At the end of the redundancy process, we expect to have a workforce of circa 215 people, on a par with the size of our business during 2017 and early 2018.

“This was an extremely difficult decision but one that we must make in order to safeguard boat building at Oundle and to ensure the long-term survival of Fairline Yachts.”

The announcement comes just days after the boat builder, based in the Nene Valley Business Park, warned the impact of the coronavirus pandemic was expected to reduce the size of the market by 30 per cent before expanding again in future years.

Mr McNulty said the company had begun to assess its staff requirements for the foreseeable future.

He said then: “We are committed to keep manufacturing in Oundle, we are proud of our highly skilled team of craftspeople and we want to build on our exciting programme of new boat development and in order to do this we must remain competitive and agile.”

Fairline Yachts stated at the end of March it was staying open to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

But shorly after that it announced that 340 of Fairline’s employees would be classified as furloughed for an initial period of three weeks, starting from April 1.