THE chief executive of Sunseeker says it has forward orders on the books worth a quarter of a billion pounds after returning to profit.

The Poole-based luxury boat maker chose the Southampton Boat Show for the world premiere of two new models – the Sunseeker 76 Yacht and the predator 57MKII.

Two years after posting losses of £41million, chief executive Phil Popham said Sunseeker was now Britain’s biggest boat builder.

“2016 was really good for us, taking the business back to profit. Revenue was up 25 per cent,” he said from the show, which runs until Sunday.

“The momentum really has carried on this year.”

He said the 76 Yacht, replacing the 75 model, had proved particularly was creating a lot of interest.

“We’ve had 15 orders before anyone’s even seen it. We’re going to be 67 per cent up on last year in terms of a forward order commitment,” he said.

The company’s forward orders were worth a quarter of a billion pounds, he said.

Sunseeker International has had stands at both Southampton and Cannes, whose boat shows overlapped this year. “I spent a few days at Cannes and while I was there our dealer sold five boats at the stand. There’s a lot of interest and quality purchasers that are coming in, very serious purchasers,” said Mr Popham.

The company, owned by China’s Dalia Wanda conglomerate, has been investing in new models and intends to introduce bigger superyachts, as well as smaller performance craft.

“We’ve spent a lot of money over the last three years on refreshing the range, but we’re also spending money on our dealer partners, on better representation. We’ve got much better representation in America,” said Mr Popham.

“It’s about making sure you’re in the right place around the world with some great products.

“We’ve got a very good strong brand.”

He said the company’s turnaround was also down to the restructuring which followed the losses of earlier years.

“We had to look at every aspect of the business. We were focused on the product and generating the revenue through our dealers, but we’ve had to look at the way in which we built the boats – the efficiency and the material costs of the boats,” he said.

“We’re building a better product now but we’re building it at lower costs.”

Sunseeker, which employs 2,300 people in Poole and Portland, has seen 41 new apprentices recently start their training at Bournemouth and Poole College. Another 100 will join by the end of the year.

“We’re very proud of having our heart in Britain,” said Mr Popham.

“At our stand in Cannes, the Union flags are flying everywhere on every boat. We really do promote that fact that we’re a British business. Our home is in Dorset, all our employees are in Dorset – a great part of our suppliers are too.”

The charity, which is partnered with Macmillan Cancer Support locally, has also announced a global partnership with the charity Blue Marine Foundation, which seeks to protect the marine environment around the world.

“For us that’s really important. It’s about protecting and conserving the very areas of the world that our customers enjoy,” said Mr Popham.

“It’s something that’s going to really resonate with customers and we hope our customers will raise a lot of money.

“People buy from successful companies, companies that have got great products and great brands, but increasingly they want to buy from responsible companies.

“We’re doing something to put something back in our local environment but we need to give something back into the global marine environment as well.”