Luxury boat firm sets sail from Southwold
An East Anglian man who made his name in the bespoke furniture business has set sail on a new venture: building luxury catamarans.
Mark Elliot, founder of the Mark Elliot Furniture company that went into administration last year, has just launched his new enterprise, Broadblue Catamarans, at Southwold.
With a nautical background and love of sailing, Mr Elliot established the catamaran business in 2001. He sold it for �1m in 2007 when he needed to put the money into his Beccles-based bespoke furniture company but could not rescue that firm, which went into administration before being bought out by turnaround business specialist SKG last July. Since then, Mr Elliot has turned his attention to the catamaran industry.
At the opening of its office at Southwold Harbour, he said: 'My father's business was boatbuilding, and after I left the navy in 1986 I took that on. Sadly, it didn't work out and I went into bespoke furniture. It was successful, and for a while I was wealthy. I had a nice house, several cars and I could afford to buy a second-hand boat.'
Mr Elliot said he had planned to buy a powerboat but, after being shown a catamaran in action, he was 'converted.' He added: 'It's a one-way street with these things. When I sold the catarmaran company in 2007 to put money into the furniture company, I wasn't happy about it. After I lost the furniture company in July 2010, I was able to turn my attention to catamarans. It's been difficult for my family because I've been so focused on getting this off the ground, but here we are. We've sold nine boats already.'
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Mr Elliot hopes his cats, aimed for now at the powerboat market, will one day be seen as 'the Aston Martins of the boat world'. The British-designed Broadblue boats are made in China. The flagship vessel is the 15m Voyager 435, which has been moored in Southwold Harbour.
Mr Elliot and co-director Mark Jarvis are keen to expand their range and eventually to build and sell 14 different cats, including the Rapier 550 – due to be launched in 2012.
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The double-hulled cats are designed to be small enough for French canals but sufficiently robust to be able to sail around the globe.
More details at www.broadblue.co.uk