The Midlands-based builder has been to "hell and back", according to boss Derek Carter

Fairline has posted the first loss in its 40-year history, ending 2008 £17.4m in the red on sales of £91.8m, according to recently published results. This compares with sales of £130.2m and a profit of £9.7m for 2007.

In an interview with International Boat Industry (IBI), Fairline boss Derek Carter said the company had been to “hell and back” over the last 12 months, but expected a return to profit in 2009.

“In the middle of 2008 we started to note that the metrics were beginning to go the wrong way from a market point of view. In July 2008 we took the decision to cut back production rates by about 10 per cent. Still the metrics kept going the wrong way so we waited for the end of the Southampton Boat Show, during which time Lehman Brothers went belly up. It was then we realised only one thing to do – that was to cut back dramatically,” he told IBI.

Fairline has so far made 365 redundancies since the crisis began, costing around £2m, and is currently consulting on another 40 job losses.

The builder was also forced to write-off £2m-worth of tooling and consolidate its line-up by taking its Targa 52, Targa 64, Phantom 40 and Squadron 58 out of production, IBI reported.

“We reduced overhead costs by £9m – we took steps to incentivise the inventories that were in the dealerships globally which cost millions, not to mention the disruption of 400 people being on our books that weren’t being productive,” Carter said.

In related news, Fairline recently took the decision to phase out its Phantom range altogether, and become a two-brand company with itse Squadron and Targa line-ups.