Call for probe into private equity firms, as Northampt...

Call for probe into private equity firms, as Northamptonshire boat builder goes into administration

03 December 2015

The secretive machinations of private equity firms need to be investigated, after Northamptonshire luxury boat builder, Fairline Boats went into administration, with the prospect of more than 460 jobs being lost.

Unite, the country’s largest union, said that there should be an inquiry by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) into the workings of such firms, following the announcement by private equity firm owner Wessex Bristol that Fairline Boats had gone into administration.

This was just two months after Wessex Bristol had acquired the company from private equity fund Better Capital.

Unite regional officer Mick Orpin said: “The two months that Wessex Bristol was in charge was marked by secretiveness and evasiveness, even requests for meetings with management by the local MP,Tom Pursglove fell on deaf ears.

“What has happened to the loyal and dedicated workforce shows that they have been victims of the secretive machinations of unfettered capitalism.

“This is completely unacceptable and Unite calls on BIS to hold an inquiry into the business activities of private equity firms, with special reference to Fairline Boats, a well-known Northamptonshire firm, established in 1963, which has now gone into administration.”

Mick Orpin said that he would be at Oundle and Corby sites on Tuesday (8 December) to talk to workforce.

He continued: "This is devastating news for the workforce and their families in the run up to Christmas. It is a real blow to the Northamptonshire economy.
“'We will be talking to the administrator this afternoon (Thursday 3 December) to see if a buyer can be found and jobs saved. We understand that there are orders in the pipeline.

“Basically, there is a sound business here, but it has been messed about by the management of Wessex Bristol who have a lot of serious questions to answer in relation to their conduct.

“There has been a callous disregard for the workforce, such as not paying the employees’ pension contributions for the last three months, while deducting the contributions from staff pay packets.
“Unite will be giving maximum support to our members at this traumatic time.
“We understand that another boatbuilder, Sunseeker International, based in Poole, Dorset is seeking up to 100 workers with the skills similar to those employed at Fairline Boats. Unite will be talking to Sunseeker’s HR department as a matter of urgency.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.