New owner ‘committed’ to Fairline Boats despite layoffs

Fairline testing facility at Ipswich.

The Fairline testing facility at Ipswich.

The new owner of Fairline Boats has expressed confidence in the business, despite laying off more than 100 of its production staff.

Fairline, which builds its boats at Oundle and Corby but has a test facility in Ipswich, has been acquired by Somerset-based luxury products group Wessex Bristol, for an undisclosed sum, from private equity firm Better Capital.

Yesterday, the Unite union said that 109 Fairline employees, out of a total of around 300, were being laid off from next Monday.

Unite regional officer Sean Kettle claimed that variations in employment contracts were also being imposed on staff. He said that the union was now seeking talks, adding: “I would urge the new owners to see Unite and its members as part of the solution in creating a successful boat building company.”

Wessex Bristol chief executive Ayiaz Ahmed said he was committed to “the long term, stable growth” of Fairline but his first priorty was “to examine all aspects” relating to short and long term strategy.

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“The Targa 53GT was launched at the 2015 Southampton Boat Show where it received excellent reviews. This along with the recent acquisition makes for a very exciting time at Fairline,” he said.

“However, to address the immediate short term issues, we have made the regrettable yet unavoidable decision to instigate a temporary layoff of a number of staff for a period of four weeks as we continue to assess the business. This is no way an indication of the long term vision for Fairline but an unfortunate unintended consequence of the current business climate.”

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He added: “The leadership team here at Fairline and the Wessex Bristol family are firmly and wholeheartedly committed to the long term success of the business.”

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