SUNSEEKER International says it should be in a “market-leading position” when the pandemic ends after pushing ahead with production of new models.
In its annual report, the luxury boat builder said its Chinese owner was backing the business’s plans for “significant growth”.
The major Poole employer – which announced 460 redundancies last year – has five models launching in the first quarter of this year, with more set for 2022.
Production of Sunseeker boats was “substantially shut down” for three months from the end of March last year, the company’s annual report has said.
Chief executive Andrea Frabetti wrote: “Only minimal production work was possible in this period, limited to the completion of those boats that were close to dispatch at the point when the UK lockdown commenced.”
He said many boat shows were cancelled across the world, prompting Sunseeker to create its own “show case” for customers to visit at Poole.
“After a review of the current position of the group, and in particular based on projections of what the luxury yacht market would look like post-Covid-19, the group restructured operations and reduced headcount and other overheads to match the identified future demand,” he wrote.
“Changes have also been made to the senior management structure, with a new executive committee constituted in June 2020 that represents all areas of the business and meets on a regular basis to guide the group through this challenging period.”
A loan facility from Sunseeker’s parent company – the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda – provided £35million in working capital last July to restart operations. A revolving credit facility of £57.5m from HSBC was converted into funding from Dalian Wanda.
Sunseeker International Holdings’ newly published accounts for 2019 show the company’s position before the pandemic, with retained profit up to £10m from £6.6m the year before.
The company said the figures demonstrated a “continuing positive trend”.
Mr Frabtti told the Daily Echo in a statement: “The group continued efforts to improve margins and thereby maximise the net contribution by boosting efficiency within the production process whilst improving quality still further. This resulted in the gross margin improving from 11.8 per cent to 13.6 per cent, ultimately leading to a growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of over £10m, from £13.1m in 2018 to £23.3m in 2019.
“Investment in new models was a consistent focus during 2019 and which has continued into 2020 and beyond with further investment to speed up an aggressive launch programme. Five of these new models will launch in Q1/2021 with others to follow throughout this year, paving the way for continuing growth.”