One of the UK’s biggest boat builders, Fairline Boats has entered into administration according to FRP Advisory
Fairline Boats has entered administration with FRP Advisory appointed as the firm’s administrators, it has been announced today (December 2).
The company employed roughly 450 staff at the beginning of the year, but around 180 staff were temporarily laid off when the Fairline was bought by Wessex Bristol back in September.
Fairline currently has facilities at Oundle and Corby in Northamptonshire and a testing location in Ipswich, Suffolk.
Redundancies are expected in the short term, but the administrators added that they will keep a core team of workers to service existing orders and liaise with dealers.
A statement from FRP Advisory adds: “A further update will be provided by the joint administrators at FRP Advisory in reasonable time once they have completed an urgent review of the company’s financial position in order to make a more detailed assessment of the company’s longer term viability.”
The news comes less than three months after the launch of the company’s latest model, the Fairline Targa 53GT (pictured above), which was unveiled at this year’s Southampton Boat Show.
However, the company is believed to have been in financial trouble for some time, with local newspaper Peterborough Today reporting that the pension contributions of around 400 workers have not been paid for the past three months, despite being deducted from their wages.
Fairline dealers have been quick to reassure customers that their existing warranty agreements will be honoured.
Principal dealer Bates Wharf was the first to confirm that they would ensure no customers lost out as a result of the administration.
Richard Bates, director of Bates Wharf, told MBY: “Fairline customers who have bought through us have no need to worry – we will continue to honour their warranties.”
Meanwhile James Barke from former Fairline dealer Boats.co.uk, added: “We’ve got our last Squadron 65 in build – it’s going through the factory right now and Fairline are being very good about it.
“Since we parted company with Fairline in April we made it very clear to all of our customers that we still sell Fairline boats and would be honouring their warranties in conjunction with suppliers on a goodwill basis.”
MBY understands that former owners Better Capital called in the administrators after Wessex Bristol’s promised Middle Eastern investment failed to materialise within an agreed timeframe.
A spokesperson for Better Capital told the Daily Mail last night: “As part of the transaction, the buyer made a commitment to provide additional funding to Fairline which was essential for it to function as a going concern.
“Despite repeated assurances, this funding has not materialised. This is a sad outcome for staff – we had hoped that a sale to such an experienced and apparently well-funded buyer would secure the future of the business.”
Wessex Bristol’s owner Ayiaz Ahmed speaking exclusively to MBY confirmed that a Middle Eastern investor had been prepared to inject £1 million into Fairline within days of the purchase but had been spooked by a larger than expected liability from HMRC.
“We understood it had been dealt with by Better Capital but our investor was no longer prepared to inject new funds until he was certain there were no further liabilities.”
Ahmed remains adamant that Fairline could still have been saved if Better Capital had allowed the CVA to go ahead but chose to call in the administrators rather than risk the value of its remaining assets being eroded.
“I feel desperately sorry for the staff, the dealers and the management who have all worked extremely hard to secure a future for the business,” said Ahmed.
“We came in to make a difference not to shut it down. This has been forced upon us. I have not made a penny out it.”