Great Yarmouth boat-building firm secures 100 jobs with buyout

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 October 2012 | UPDATED: 12:07 05 November 2012

An Alicat Workboat called Smeaton Array. Picture: James Bass

An Alicat Workboat called Smeaton Array. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Great Yarmouth boat-building company Alicat Workboats has secured more than 100 jobs by buying a company out of administration.

The decision to purchase South Boats - based on the Isle of Wight - was made to benefit from its multi-million pound order book, strong reputation and to grow the Alicat base.

Alicat builds catamarans which serve to take workers out to offshore wind farm developments, and employs around 75 staff.

And company director Nigel Darling said the acquisition of the Cowes company for an undisclosed fee will be of mutual benefit.

“We are delighted with this acquisition and feel it both complements the company’s activities and secures the future of boat building on the Isle of Wight,” he said. “With the backing of Alicat Workboats, the clients of South Boats can be assured of the continued supply of quality vessels.”

Alicat’s main site, in Southtown Road, produces around eight work boats per year - worth £1.7m each - and the firm is set to produce more nationally once clients of South Boats are considered.

The southern firm employs more than 100 people, has around £21m of orders in its order book, with an enquiry pipeline of around £35m.

Joint-administrators David Clements and Richard Toone from consultants Chantrey Vellacott DFK and SIA Group managed the sale.

Chantrey Vellacott DFK was appointed administrators of South Boats Special Projects last Thursday, and after discussions with a number of interested parties they finalised a deal with Alicat Workboats.

Mr Clements, partner and restructuring specialist at the firm, said: “South Boats had suffered financial problems mainly due to a combination of the challenge of rapid growth, significant design investment, new product introduction and expansion of manufacturing footprint.

“Alicat Workboats is a major player in the industry and the sale has safeguarded jobs and secured the future of production on the Isle of Wight.

“The new venture will be the leading specialist in the manufacture and service of crew transportation vessels to offshore wind farms and provide refit and repair facilities.”

He added South Boats had a strong reputation and a healthy order book, which made the company “an extremely attractive proposition”.

“After a lot of hard work we are delighted to have completed the deal with Alicat Workboats and are confident the business will thrive under its new owners,” he said.

The merger between the two companies is hoped to have many beneficial effects, making Alicat and South Boats a leader in the industry.

Bosses say this will manifest itself both in terms of new builds together with service and support from two bases.

Paul Craig, Director at SIA Group, said: “The level of interest for South Boats both locally and internationally has been exceptional for what is clearly a well regarded product.

“We worked closely with all parties to ensure certainty of delivery and secure a positive outcome within an extremely tight deadline.”

Alicat Workboats was established in May 2009 and operates from the well-established Richards Dry Dock ship construction and repair yard in Great Yarmouth.

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