Spirit Yachts still recruiting ahead of opening of new boat building facility at Ipswich Haven Marina

Nigel Stuart and Sean McMillan of Spirit Yachts.

Nigel Stuart and Sean McMillan of Spirit Yachts.

A luxury yacht maker based in Suffolk is preparing to celebrate an expansion which includes the creation of around 15 new jobs.

Spirit Yachts is to host an official opening ceremony at a new boat building facility constructed at its Ipswich Haven Marina headquarters on December 21.

And, despite a tumultuous few years for the wider marine industry, Spirit is now around half way through the planned recruitment of more skilled staff thanks to a healthy order book.

This will take the total workforce at the company from 40 – where the figure stood in July when the expansion was first announced and which has been maintained in recent years while other companies in the sector have been shedding jobs – to 55 when all the new roles are filled.

Managing director Nigel Stuart, who joined the business two years ago after being approached by owner and chief designer Sean McMillan, said the marine industry had experienced “a tough few years” since the recession.

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However, he continued: “British boat builders have in the most part done well as they have continued to produce quality boats, which the UK is known for worldwide.

“Following a long term investment and marketing plan, we have enjoyed a successful 12 months with a steadily growing order book and positive interest for the future. We intend to sustain that growth by continuing to invest in our facilities and workforce.”

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Looking head, Mr Stuart added: “Since Brexit the industry has seen a slight upturn, but it is yet to be revealed whether this will last; the outcome of international trade deals will be crucial.

Spirit is a world leader in modern classic yacht design, with its portfolio of wooden sail and power yachts ranging in size from 37 feet to more than 100, and while its boats are traditional in styling they incorporate the latest in modern technology.

While most people will be unable to afford to buy a Spirit yacht many will have seen one, as a boat built by the company featured in the remake of Casino Royale, the first James Bond film featuring current 007 Daniel Craig.

According to a survey published in September, recruitment within Britain’s marine industry increased by 2.7% in 2014-15 and is expected to have grown again in 2015-16, by a further 2%.

Boat manufacturing is said to have contributed around 20% of this growth, with a shortage of technical skills – cited as a problem by around 30% of companies – being a constraining factor.

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