THEY are seen as a symbol of wealth and success.
Owned by the rich and famous, Sunseeker superyachts come with a multi-million- pound price tag and a reputation for luxury at sea.
Now one of the world’s leading luxury yacht builders could move to Southampton.
The Daily Echo can reveal that James Bond’s favourite boat maker has been looking at potential sites for a new boatbuilding base in the city.
And while bosses say there are no imminent plans for a new site in Hampshire, a move to Southampton could surface as part of the company’s “long term” expansion plan.
Sunseeker boats have featured in a number of James Bond films since 1999, including Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
The firm, which counts Formula One drivers Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen and Dragons Den millionaire Theo Paphitis among its clients, is based in Poole, where it employs 2,300 staff.
The £300m-valued company has a number of yachts, including the new 75 and Sport 101 models, on display at the London Boat Show.
Its vessels can be as large as 155ft long, while its most expensive currently markets for £22m – excluding tax.
And with business continuing to boom, company chiefs are casting their eyes across the south coast to look for a new site.
The potential new base would not affect Sunseeker’s current operations in Poole.
In its search, Sunseeker has looked into a number of sites in Southampton, including part of the former Vosper Thornycroft site in Woolston.
The firm’s managing director, Stewart Mcintyre, says the company has sufficient building capacity in its current facilities, and is not looking to expand in the next few years.
But that picture may change as Sunseeker looks for sites which could facilitate the building of its biggest vessels.
He told the Daily Echo: “Our interest has been to find out what is happening in Southampton, from Mayflower Park all the way across to Centenary Quay, but I think at the moment due to the demands we took in 2013, including work at our threeacre site in Poole, for the foreseeable future we will be remaining within our existing real estate.
“But we have space restrictions for building bigger boats in Poole, and clearly the sites in Southampton have capacity for building bigger boats.
“We are open minded as to the future and are keeping our eye on real estate that is suitable for yacht building in the south coast, and we have had discussions with the city council in Southampton and different developers in the area.
“But this is part of a longer term plan for us.”
Labour city council leader Simon Letts said: “With the skilled workforce from BAE Systems who are being made redundant, there are highly skilled workers here for them to recruit from.
“We have a strong maritime tradition here in the Solent, and we will do anything we can to get them here.”