NEWS - Fairline fights back
It has been an interesting couple of years for Brit builder Fairline (pictured). The company hit the headlines several times with stories of mass redundancies during the economic slowdown, and has recently been the focus of attention again following rumours that the investment company behind the brand was seeking to offload it. However, as I discovered on a recent catch-up with Fairline CEO Derek Carter, not all is what it has seemed. “The last downturn was sharp in, sharp out,” he tells me, “but this downturn was sharp and deep in, and slow out. We were fortunate as we saw the indicators going the wrong way in 2008, so we made our first cut in mid-2008 with a bigger cut at the end of 2008. It did mean a workforce cut of 40 per cent, but we are now
at a level (of orders and business) we previously enjoyed in 2004 and we have begun to see a steady, prolonged increase in our order book.”
Stating that the new, leaner company is in a much better position to meet growth while retaining efficiency, Carter also explained some of the philosophy behind the current Fairline range and development strategy. “We were well on our way to producing an 85-footer when the recession hit,” he continues, “so we stopped development and reinvested in the 40- to 70-foot range where there was far less development going on (in the market). We have always said that we would maintain a range between 35 and 80 feet. Our current smallest is a 38-footer, but will there be a smaller Targa? Absolutely.” Another change is that Fairline will concentrate on just two lines — the Targa and the Squadron — with venerable and popular lines such as the Phantom being phased out. So what is next for the builder? “We have the Squadron 50 coming out in the autumn,” says Carter, “plus a four-cabin version of the Squadron 65 coming up, too. Then in 2012, the Squadron 80 will launch, along with a secret project in a highly competitive size bracket.” Interestingly, Carter expects the European market to remain largely flat over the next 12 months, but says that the company has seen significant growth in new markets in the Far East and South America, as well as a continued strong showing from Australia.
The Squadron 50 (pictured) aims to offer huge interior volume for its size bracket, including a large saloon area with midships seating and aft galley to port. Combined with large doors to the cockpit, and with an awning window to the cockpit by the galley as well, the 50 should deliver impressive inside-outside social areas with easy alfresco dining. The accommodation includes a master suite forward and two twin/double cabins amidships. — Tim Thomas