International Boat Industry

Oyster Yachts returns to profit; turnaround plan underpins future growth

By David Robinson

Yacht production turnover to double by 2022 supported by strong sales and demand.

Oyster Yachts Deputy CEO Rebecca Bridgen

The clear message from its latest financial figures and additional company information is that premium sailboat brand Oyster Yachts has made strong progress through its three-year turnaround plan and is now set on a sustained path of profits and growth going forward.

The UK-based builder moved into a profitable position during Q4 of its fiscal 2020-21 year which ended on March 31. Rebecca Bridgen, Oyster’s Deputy CEO, told IBI, “The results just published (FY20) are the history and in spite of Covid this year, the business has moved ahead and is now back to profits going forward.”

She added, ”It is positive news; the past three years have been very hard but we are doing exactly what we set out to do and put the group on sound footing for the future.”

The turnaround plan was set out in 2019 with a core objective – according to the strategic report for Oyster Yachts Holdings Ltd (OYHL) published with its recent Companies House accounts filing – to “successfully re-establish all its operations in yacht production, refit, brokerage, charter, crew, technical and sales support.” OYHL is the ultimate parent company of the Oyster brand with a 100% stake held by CEO Richard Hadida.

This multi-faceted plan has actively included new investment in facilities and equipment, a total redesign of the Oyster yacht range, upgrading the product development and design processes, and firm initiatives to build a strong highly-skilled and sustainable workforce to underpin the brand’s future growth.

Oyster Yachts CEO Richard Hadida

Bridgen explained to IBI, the development in turnover at Oyster Yachts Ltd (OYL), the main yacht production subsidiary. “Yacht production turnover which was £19.8m in FY20, is planned to grow to £25m in FY21 and then double to around £50m in FY22.” This latter figure is based on building some 25 yachts a year. These forecast figures reflect how all parts of the turnaround plan are aimed at giving the Oyster brand a substantial foundation with a clear vision to “build the world’s finest yachts, the best family and the strongest business in the world of blue water cruising.”

The success of the rebuilding under Hadida encouraged Oyster founder, Sir Richard Matthews, to rejoin the board and inject the Oyster DNA into the newly developed Oyster yachts.

In respect of sales and new model product development since the acquisition in 2018, Oyster says it has sold 40 yachts and order books are full for the next two years, with extremely strong demand reported globally.

In the OYHL strategic report, Hadida commented, “In-house new boat production revenues increased 50% during the year, from £10m during the first year of operations to £15m in FY20 and is expected to grow over 50% again in FY21; whilst Covid-19 had an impact in the first half of FY21, new yacht revenues in the second six months of the year are expected to be similar to that generated in the full year FY20.”

He continued, “Our new models have inspired increased demand. The order book for new yachts has grown across the year and production for FY21 is 100% covered by the order book and FY22 production also has 90% coverage with orders for some series stretching out to 2023. It is particularly encouraging that the order book is strong across all yacht series and across all regions.”

In 2019, the new Oyster 565 model was launched and 16 have been sold so far. For the future, the Oyster 595 will be debuted this summer and 10 of this model have already been sold off-plan. This will be followed by the Oyster 495 later in the year of, which several have already been sold.

Work is already underway on a new model which is scheduled to be introduced in 2022. Bridgen told IBI that six or seven hulls of the Oyster 495 would be moulded during FY22.

As to the skilled workforce, since 2018 this has been increased from 10 to 420 (as of March 31, 2021) and will grow to over 500 through 2021 as more people are taken on in Southampton and Norfolk, in addition to 70 new jobs at the new Hythe facility.

As a move to enhance a future supply of skilled employees, the Oyster Apprenticeship Academy has been set up, to invest in time honoured skills in order to sustain world class British boat building industry. Bridgen who told IBI, “I am passionate about supporting British boat building skills,” was instrumental in establishing the Academy.

In recognition of these actions, the City College Southampton, which validates the commitment in young talent and apprentices, voted Oyster Yachts ‘Employer of the Year 2021’.

In respect to investments, Oyster Yachts has undertaken the following through its rebuilding programme:

  • Innovated and invested in state-of-the-art production and technology-on-board to compliment the finest hand-finished craftsmanship and deliver the best quality yachts to date. This included £1.5m on a new composite facility.
  • Invested in existing sites in Wroxham and Southampton, and opened state-of-the-art sites in Ashmanhaugh and Hythe
  • Invested £2m in Lloyds Certification to provide reassurance on quality – go anywhere boats, built to last a lifetime
  • Announced expansion into Hythe, increasing existing Oyster estate facilities by 70%, along with a further 70 staff. Hythe will be home to the new 495, a 15m(50ft) that sets a new benchmark in a very competitive market. This move ironically supports the finances of Fairline Yachts which owns the Hythe Marine Park.

As part of its ongoing plans Oyster Yachts will continue its calendar of uniquely-owned events like the Oyster World Rally 2022/23, and the Oyster World Rally 2024/25 is now fully subscribed. Also it has plans to further re-engage with customers and welcomed many hundreds of boaters to the Oyster family, experiencing world class service and support.

In regard to the recently filed OYHL FY20 results, Oyster chairman, Ashley Highfield, said in the strategic report, “The board was fully aware that there would be a delay to new yacht production across the first two years, pending completion of the group’s in-house composites facility and hence ability to mould new yachts, and that investment would result in significant losses across the first two years.”

He added, “By early 2021, all production will be at full capacity, with orders for new yachts across all models in the range. This provides a positive outlook for the group as it transitions from the end of its three-year turnaround plan to one of future revenue growth and profitability.”

Article continues. See IBI for the full article.

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