A luxury yacht builder has reduced its workforce by a quarter as it invests £150,000 in a new computerised cutting and milling machine.

Marchwood-based Discovery Yachts said it had laid off 20 staff who had come to the end of fixed-term contracts started earlier this year and let eight permanent staff go.

It insisted that the cuts were due to the “natural peaks and troughs of the boatbuilding cycle”.

The company, which builds about ten of its £800,000 to £1.5m blue-water cruising yachts each year, said that it was scaling down after delivering three new boats in September.

It has retained more than 70 staff and has four Discovery 55s in production and is about to start the first of its new design Discovery 57s, announced at the recent PSP Southampton Boat Show.

Discovery said that its investment in a new hi-precision five-axis CNC (computer numerical control) machine would result in a significantly more efficient and faster throughput in its in-house joinery shop and allow the company to increase its production capacity. It replaces an older three-axis CNC machine.

Managing director Nigel Stuart said: “Our significant investment in this state-of-the-art five-axis equipment during these uncertain economic times confirms our commitment to driving business and ensuring growth through innovation and investment.

“This investment will ensure that we can offer our discerning clients the highest quality in-house joinery together with the opportunity for unique and personal designs to be incorporated into the build of their yachts.”

Discovery said that it had arranged 15 test sails following the PSP Southampton Boat Show, with more booked over the coming weeks.

Earlier this year the firm expanded its production capacity by taking an additional three units on the Cracknore Industrial Park in Marchwood. It already occupied four units.