Some 297 of 659 staff to go as well as two facilities as Sealine plans for a "smaller leisure marine market"

Sealine is cutting almost half its workforce and closing two of three factories in response to the global economic downturn, it was revealed today.

The move will see staff numbers cut by 297 and the closure of two Sealine sites at Hartlebury in Worcestershire and Burntwood in Staffordshire. This will leave the company with just its main site at Kidderminster.

The job cuts will hit both production and office staff, the company said, and will begin in early 2009.

The dramatic move follows a recent announcement from Fairline that it was scaling back production in preparation for what could be a rocky period for British boatbuilding.

Sealine is owned by US firm Brunswick, which is itself slashing jobs and cutting production in response to “extraordinary developments” in the global financial markets .

Announcing the news, the company said: “As economic conditions worldwide continue to worsen and are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, Sealine is planning for a leisure marine market that will be smaller in the near and medium term.”

Sealine’s MD, Steve Coultate, said: “It is with great regret that we are planning these changes, but they are necessary given the current leisure marine market conditions and economic environment. We need to take action to protect the long-term prospects of both our company and our international dealer network.

“The actions we are taking will leave us well positioned to respond to a market upturn, when it comes. We will seek to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies by inviting applications for voluntary redundancies and for all of those employees affected we will be providing a full consultation and counselling programme.”

Photo: Sealine’s new SC35