Southerly Yachts folds again
Pratical Boat Owner: One of the biggest sailboat names in British boat building, Southerly Yachts, has folded again, writes Barry Pickthall. It comes just 13 months after the brand was ‘rescued’ from an earlier receivership.
The builder, which once employed 165 people at Itchenor Shipyard and its moulding operation in Havant, went down with the loss of 50 jobs.
A creditors meeting held at the Gatwick Hilton Hotel on 22 August was told that efforts to refloat the building arm of the business had failed and that once three yachts currently under construction for customers were completed, production of the Southerly brand would cease.
Chris Stephens from FRP Advisory was once again appointed receiver but, like last year, when the assets available to offset debts amounted to little more than the office furniture and a database of potential clients, there are precious few pickings.
A spokesman for FRP Advisory refused to divulge the list of outstanding creditors for Southerly Yachts Ltd or its level of indebtedness to Boating Business, stating that this will eventually be published by Companies House.
The land and buildings at Itchenor are owned by Sunchalk Ltd and the mouldings, intellectual property rights to the Southerly, Fisher and Vancouver yacht brands together with equipment and machinery, all remain outside the grasp of the receiver.
Northshore Yachts was formed in 1971, and purchased by Lester Abbott from founder Bryan Moffatt for a reputed £4.5m in 2003. Mr Abbott invested heavily in expanding the Southerly range, building two new factory buildings – the latest of which was opened by Princess Anne in 2010.
After this crash, Mr Abbott also faced criticism from within the marine industry for leaving key suppliers high and dry. Their reluctance to supply the new Southerly Yachts business with vital parts forced Mr Abbott to pay off past debts, and companies like Iron Brothers which manufactured Southerly’s unique swing keels, and was owed £59,000, is owed just £38.00 this time.
Spokesmen from Tek Tanks, Houdini Windows, Holman Rigging and IPC Media, which all took considerable hits in the 2013 bankruptcy, also reported that they have been paid off.
The first sign of problems came at the beginning of August with the removal of mould tools that had littered the Itchenor foreshore ever since Northshore’s moulding facilities in Havant were wound up and moved suddenly to a field behind the Northshore production facility.
A week later, staff arriving for work found the yard locked and a note posted on the door telling them to return home.
A small team of builders was later recalled to complete the three remaining yachts in construction.
Even before the creditors meeting, the Itchenor facility had re-opened for business under the name of Northshore Shipyard Ltd. A new sign on the gate proclaimed ‘repairs, storage, moorings and all types of work carried out – at competitive rates.’