Oyster Yachts goes into liquidation

The Oyster 745 was launched at boot Düsseldorf 2017 The Oyster 745 was launched at boot Düsseldorf 2017
Industry Database

British luxury yacht builder, Oyster Yachts is believed to have gone into liquidation, just three weeks after announcing a record breaking 2017 and an order book of 33 yachts worth in excess of £80m.

It is understood all staff at Oyster’s Southampton and Wroxham yards have been laid off.

The company launched its latest model, the Oyster 745 at boot Düsseldorf last month, the largest sailing yacht at the show.

The company also announced the sale of its 23rd Oyster 625 at the show.

Earlier in January, new deck tooling was taking shape that could be used on either the new Oyster 895 or Oyster 835 - both models were announced in September 2017.

And the company also announced plans for a major project to build several 118ft superyachts.

Founded

The company was founded by Richard Matthews and sold in 2008 for around £70m. The acquisition included the Oyster Group companies Oyster Marine Ltd, Oyster Brokerage Ltd and Southampton Yacht Services Ltd.

Oyster Marine was sold to HTP Investments BV in 2012 that is now rumoured to have withdrawn financial support for the company.

In September 2016, Oyster received guarantees under the UK Export Finance Bond Support Scheme after receiving a number of contracts to build yachts for buyers in Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.

At the time Simon Haynes, group finance director, Oyster Yachts, said: “Without UKEF’s support, we would have had to look at less favourable financing options in order to deliver these contracts.

“Working with UKEF meant that we were able to access the finance we needed to sell to Europe and beyond and drive core revenue growth.”

Structural problems

Yachting forums are discussing the fact that the boatbuilder may have lost money in dealing with structural problems identified following the sinking of the Oyster yacht Polina Star III, which lost her keel off the coast of Spain in 2015.

An inspection of the yacht after it had been recovered highlighted a possible weakness in the process used to build the inner structure of the vessel.

It is not known how much the incident cost the boatbuilder.

Family focused

The Oyster World Rally has helped the company establish itself further with plans for a third world rally to take place 2021-23 recently announced and the company reported that its family-focused yachts were proving especially popular attracting new European and international buyers.

The company employs around 160 staff at its Southampton boatyard and a similar number at its Wroxham yard. Last October Oyster held a recruitment day at its Wroxham yard and this week was still advertising job vacancies on its website.

*A recent Crowdfunding launch by Discovery Yachts Group has been overfunded. Discovery currently has nine yachts in build and has grown its order book by more than 300% this financial year to more than £11m.

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