After 52 years in business, it seems that renowned British boat builder, Fairline, has come to an unfortunate end. After protracted financial difficulties, the company is in administration.

Founded in Oundle in the English Midlands in 1963, Fairline graduated from its original 19-foot river cruiser to achieve international fame for a fleet comprising the dynamic and seaworthy Targa line (modern express cruisers either in Open or GT form, see Fairline Targa 53GT Video: First Look); and the generously proportioned Squadron range (flybridge cruisers that put the priority squarely on attractive living spaces).

 

Fairline in administration

Fairline in administration



 

Both elements of the fleet have achieved popular and critical acclaim over the years and yet with in the wake of reports regarding unpaid staff and unpaid suppliers, Fairline has been put into administration by private equity fund Better Capital after a deferred finance injection of £2m for the sale of the company to Wessex Bristol failed to materialise.

Better Capital bought Fairline for around £16m in 2011 and had apparently invested more than £24m in the company - but the deepening Russian recession is thought to have been at the heart of a radical dip in the sales of its boats and of a general downturn in the company’s fortunes.

Around 380 of the 450 workers have apparently now left work, leaving just 70 behind to service the orders currently in build and to liaise with dealers. As is often the case in such circumstances, there is continued talk of the company’s potential to regain positive growth in the right hands and with the right backers – but only time will now tell if we get to see a renaissance of this distinctly capable shipyard.

In the mean time, key dealers, including Bates Wharf, have reassured existing customers that the warranties on their Fairline craft will be honoured.

 

Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.
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