SUNSEEKER has told its suppliers it will not be paying their invoices during its coronavirus shutdown.

Poole's biggest private employer recently put a halt to production of luxury boats until the end of April, suspending work for the “vast majority” of its staff.

Suppliers, some of whom are owed five or six-figure sums, were sent an email saying Sunseker would “freeze all supplier accounts including payments” during the shutdown.

One supplier, who did not want to be named, said: “The government wants to businesses to keep paying invoices because that’s what keeps everything ticking over.

“Other companies are still paying and it’s important that the money circulates because that’s what keeps businesses going in this area.”

Another supplier said: “I think, for an international company, it’s a shock really.”

He said he had his own staff to pay and was still waiting for an appointment to talk to his bank about the government’s coronavirus crisis loans.

Sunseeker, owned by the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, brought in group revenue of £299.8million in 2018, its most recent accounts showed.

Profits that year were up to £6.6m from £1.1m the year before.

An email from chief operating officer Michael Straughan, told suppliers: “The Covid-19 Pandemic and related restrictions imposed in the United Kingdom and globally, have had a sudden and severe impact on Sunseeker’s operations.

“As a result, Sunseeker, regrettably has already had to implement emergency cost control measures, including limiting production and work force reductions.

“Following the UK government’s statement on Monday, March 23, advising against non-essential travel, Sunseeker has decided to commence a temporary and controlled shutdown of its manufacturing operations.

“I am sure you will appreciate that the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, their families and the communities we operate in, is of paramount importance and we must all do our part to alleviate the pressure on the National Health Service at this incredibly difficult time.”

It said it hoped to restart boat production on April 27, adding: “During the period of lockdown, we will freeze all supplier accounts including payments, which we intend to resume when the restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic are lifted and we return to business as usual.”

It added: “I would like to thank you for your continuing support during this very challenging period.”

Another big Dorset name, Weymouth-based fashion chain New Look, recently suppliers that it was cancelling all outstanding orders and did not intend to pay anything towards suppliers’ costs. Payment for stock that had arrived would be “delayed indefinitely”.