Sowester Goes Into Liquidation

Sowester Simpson-Lawrence, one of Europe's biggest marine wholesalers, has gone into liquidation.

Sowester Simpson-Lawrence, the beleaguered boating equipment distributor, has gone into liquidation after administrators KPMG failed to find a buyer for the company. John Buck, managing director of SSL, said on November 7th “The company was closed down this afternoon.”

Around 100 staff at the company’s Poole headquarters were told yesterday that they were to be made redundant, following the 50 staff were made redundant in October following the appointment of KPMG as adminstrators.

KPMG had accepted an offer at the end of October, subject to contract, for the sale of the business and assets as a going concern. However, it appears that the conditions of the deal could not be met by SSL.

The last straw for SSL seems to have come with the news that its contract to distribute Mercury outboards was to be terminated and that part of their business moved to arch-rival E P Barrus. Marine Power Europe, the European arm of Mercury Marine, had been Sowester’s biggest client and, along with Mercury Mercruiser sterndrives, had been a mainstay of the business. Without that business the financial future of SSL could not be guaranteed and the plug was pulled.

This leaves some question marks over warranties on Mercruiser sterndrives (they come with a one-year warranty as standard, but Sowester sold them with a three-year warranty), which Marine Power Europe and E P Barrus have yet to clarify. It also leaves the UK future of Sea-Doo personal watercraft in doubt.