MOODY yachts are to be made abroad for the first time after the historic Hampshire boat brand was sold to a German rival for an undisclosed sum.

The deal with Hanse Yachts marks the end of a UK boat building tradition dating back more than 150 years. Moody's production will now shift to Greifswald in Germany.

Moody was sold by Premier Marinas, which bought the brand along with Swanwick Marina in a multi-million deal for AH Moody & Son in December 2005. Production long since stopped on the Swanwick site, shifting initially to Plymouth and then back to Hampshire at VT Halmatic's Portchester base. VT Halmatic, warship builder VT's small boat arm, switched from making pleasure craft to small military vessels, leaving Moody without a manufacturer.

Hanse plans to extend the Moody range, which currently costs between £500,000 and £1.2m, by building a smaller, cheaper 35-foot yacht as well as bigger 80-foot versions.

Renowned designer Bill Dixon, based in Bursledon, will continue to design the popular range and Premier Yacht Sales, the marina operator's Swanwick based retail arm, will continue to sell the vessels in the UK A spokesman said: "There is no effect on staffing levels at all, if anything it will mean an increase in the number of staff because the range will be bigger and we're hoping demand will increase."

Premier Marinas, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a property fund of US investment bank Merrill Lynch, owns seven marinas across the south, including Port Solent, Gosport and Southsea. Last week the firm unveiled ambitious £30m plans to redevelop Swanwick Marina with shops, offices and new facilities for berth holders. Tim Mason, managing director of Premier Marinas, said: "With 150 years of marine history involved in the brand, Moody has a large and loyal following and we think that they will be pleased when they see the plans for the development of the brand.

"It is very exciting development for Moody that will safeguard its future and ensure a wider offering in the Moody range."

Moody Group is most famous for its historic boatyard, which made a vital contribution to the Second World War, building 120 craft such as motor launches for the war effort and repairing nearly 2,000 damaged vessels. The boatyard also fitted out the square-rigger Lord Nelson, which is used by the Jubilee Sailing Trust and is a familiar sight in the Solent.