Red7Marine to relocate from Wrabness to Ipswich as revival continues
- Credit: Archant
Red7Marine, a leading provider of jack-up barges for coastal construction projects, has just achieved its best ever financial year.
And the company, which less than four years ago found itself in administration, is now planning a move to new, larger, premises.
The business, which is currently based at Wrabness, near Manningtree, and has a yard in Ipswich, was established in 1999 by Nick Offord, now manager director.
He previously followed a successful career in the construction sector, including time with Laing Civil Engineering which saw him work on structural steelwork for the Sizewell B nuclear power station.
Mr Offord set up his own business on returning to the UK from a spell working in Hong Kong, initially focusing on plant hire, with the entire operation based at the Wrabness site.
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An offshore diving business, based in Great Yarmouth, was later added to the business and the first jack-up barge joined the hire fleet in 2006, when the Ipswich yard was opened.
The portfolio of schemes in which Red7Marine has been involved includes a number of major London projects such as the Olympic Park at Stratford, the Crossrail station at Canary Wharf and the cable car at Greenwich.
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It has also been involved in coastal projects the length and breadth of Great Britain, including schemes in Lowestoft, Southwold, Sizewell, Orford, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Harwich, Walton-on-the-Naze, Brainglingsea and Bradwell.
Building up a fleet of barges, however, represented a substantial investment and in 2013 a 50.1% stake in the business was sold to private equity firm Perwyn, linked to the injection of further capital.
But as the services side of the business continued to grow the diving side began to suffer as the fall in the price oil during 2014 and continuing into 2015 resulted in a number of offshore contracts being cancelled.
The resulting pressure on cashflow culminated with the appointment of administrators, at which point the original investors bought back the services businesses, saving 54 jobs in the process, while the offshore operation ceased trading with 47 people being made redundant.
Mr Offord said the services side was still a sound business at moment of its rescue – in fact it had just achieved its best-ever month before the administrators were appointed – although 2016 proved to be a challenge year with a number of negative influence at work in the market, including uncertainly over Brexit.
“In 2017, however, things started moving again and we got ‘back to business’,” he said. “We had a particularly good year and we now have as full an order book as we have ever had.”
The workforce has now grown to nearly 70 and turnover is on track to hit a targeted £20m, having reached £16m last year against £7m ion 2016.
“The reason for the growth is not just a better market,” said Mr Offord. “We are also taking the business to a new place, more into the renewables sector, and away from the roller-coaster of government spending”.
The company currently operates a fleet of 12 barges, one of which is currently deployed at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station development site in Somerset.
The focus on renewables has included not only the fast-growing offshore wind market but also investigation work for the tidal lagoon project in Swansea Bay.
“We have spent 20 years becoming lead supplier to the construction industry and now it is our goal to become the leading supplier to the renewables industry,” said Mr Offord.
However, the company also continues to work on more traditional projects, including oil and gas decommissioning work and waterside construction, currently including the the Thames Tideway Tunnel project to improve London’s sewerage system.
And now, with further expansion of the workforce in prospect, Red7Marine is about to relocate its headquarters from Wrabness to a larger unit within Fox’s Marina at Wherstead, on the edge of Ipswich, not far from the yard it leases from Port of Ipswich owner Associated British Ports.
“We are excited about this year, as we approach the 20th anniversary of doing what we do,” added Mr Offord. “We have outgrown our offices here and need to move on.”