Up to 40 jobs set to go at luxury yacht builder Fairline
Staff were told the news on Monday and have already held meetings with bosses as part of a redundancy consultation process.
It is a shock considering only last October Fairline advertised 100 new roles, including carpenters, engineers and painters for its Hythe and Oundle manufacturing sites to support the introduction of new models to its range.
But in a statement, Fairline chief executive David Tydeman said the firm had reversed a decision to use the Hythe facility for mixed-line production of the Targa 65 and Squadron 68 because the logistics of building there were too great.
“During the past 18 months we have been building the Targa 65 in Oundle and the Squadron 68 in Hythe – a geographical separation which did not maximise the best team approach,” he said.
“During the past nine months we have reconsidered the build processes for the Squadron 68 so that we can now manufacture it in Oundle without encountering road haulage restrictions.
“This means we can maximise the experienced Oundle team, who have built over 400 60ft-plus yachts, including 115 of the highly successful Squadron 78.”
The company’s clients have included Ben Ainsley’s Americas Cup project and Alex Thompson for his Hugo Boss Vendee challenge, as well as commercial firms such as Red Funnel and Southampton Marine Services.
Cllr Rebecca Clark, district councillor for Hythe West and Langdown, said she was "deeply concerned" about the job losses.
She said: "This news must be devastating for those who have received news of redundancy. It also has a knock on effect for the local economy and supply chain.
"I am heartened to hear that Fairline’s commitment to its new premises in Hythe is still firm, and that its Hythe base will produce further jobs in the future, albeit different to those carried out at Fairline currently.
"This will be cold comfort however for those workers at Hythe now finding themselves seeking new employment. It’s very sad to hear indeed.’
Confirming the company would stay at Hythe, Mr Tydeman added: “The plan for the mixed line at Hythe also fully utilised one part of our Hythe facility – known as Unit 1 – for the 65/68.
“With our exciting plans for the Squadron 82, and other larger Fairline yachts, this has meant we could not start production of these bigger yachts until we had converted the other part of the Hythe facility – known as Unit 4.
“By establishing the 65/68 production line in Oundle, we can accelerate our plans for the new Squadron 82 using Unit 1. In the short term, this does mean we have reduced staff in Hythe.
“However, we are planning to develop a new specialised team for Hythe, specifically for building larger yachts. We anticipate production of the first Squadron 82 to begin towards the end of 2020.”
Mr Tydeman said the firm had ambitions for its Hythe base, at the former marine park, to become a “significant contributor” to the overall business and they were “already coming to fruition”.
Addressing the future of the site, Mr Tydeman continued: “As part of this joint agenda, we confirm our plans for the Fairline Marine Park in Hythe to be primarily the future Fairline customer and marketing base, as well as a multi-purpose commercial slipway, providing onshore storage, a 200-tonne travel lift and fuel dock.”