A LUXURY yacht maker is to make up to 40 staff redundant – just months after it launched a major recruitment drive.

Devastated staff at Fairline Yachts were told yesterday that the company had “reversed” a decision to build all its larger boats in Hythe.

Only two Squadron 68 yachts had been completed by the time of the announcement. A third is half-finished and will now be completed at the company’s factory in Oundle, Northamptonshire.

The blow comes as Hampshire prepares to show off its maritime industry at next week’s Southampton International Boat Show.

Staff at Fairline Yachts were told yesterday that the company planned to make 35-40 staff redundant, subject to a 30-day consultation.

Fairline took over the Shore Road site previously occupied by Green Marine at the end of 2017. Last November, it announced it was hiring 100 staff to build all its larger yachts in Hampshire. Models under 60ft were to be built at Oundle, where the company is headquartered.

But a statement from chief executive David Tydeman said the company had “reversed a decision made last year to use our Hythe facility for mixed line production of the Targa 65 and Squadron 68”.

He said: “During the past 18 months we have been building the Targa 65 in Oundle and the Squadron 68 in Hythe – a geographical separation which did not maximise the best team approach.

“During the past nine months we have re-considered the build processes for the Squadron 68 so that we can now manufacture it in Oundle without encountering road haulage restrictions. This means we can maximise the experienced Oundle team, who have built over 400 60ft-plus yachts, including 115 of the highly successful Squadron 78.”

The earlier plan involved using the whole Unit 1 facility at Hythe for the Targa 65 and Squadron 68, while production of the Squadron 82 and other yachts would have to wait until the rest of the boatyard was converted.

Mr Tydeman said: “By establishing the 65/68 production line in Oundle, we can accelerate our plans for the new Squadron 82 using Unit 1. In the short term, this does mean we have reduced staff in Hythe. However, we are planning to develop a new specialised team for Hythe, specifically for building larger yachts. We anticipate production of the first Squadron 82 to begin towards the end of 2020.”

He added: “In parallel – and as an important consideration in this decision – we are pleased that our ambitions for Hythe Shipyard to become a significant contributor to the Fairline Yachts business are already coming to fruition, servicing clients including Carrington Boats (for Ben Ainsley’s America’s Cup project and Alex Thompson for his Hugo Boss Vendee challenge) together with commercial projects for Red Funnel, Southampton Marine Services and most recently, Sail GP.

“As part of this joint agenda, we confirm our plans for the Fairline Marine Park in Hythe to be primarily the future Fairline customer and marketing base, as well as a multi-purpose commercial slipway, providing onshore storage, a 200-tonne travel lift and fuel dock.