BOSSES at Sunseeker International say the company is “back stronger than ever” despite recording a net loss of £23.7million in the year the pandemic hit. 

The Poole-based luxury boat builder says it has an order book worth more than £400million, with interest from around the world in its new yachts.

Sunseeker International Holdings revealed the loss in its accounts for 2020 after a profit of £10m in 2019.

By its preferred measure – of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) – the loss was £5.7m against a surplus of £29m in 2019.

The company shut down most of its production for three months in 2020 and made redundancies. But it received more money from its Chinese majority shareholder Dalian Wanda to continue with its plan to invest in new models.

Sunseeker’s sales director, Sean Robertson, told the Daily Echo: “It was a tough year. We all know that.

"We took a decision to protect our workforce and suppliers, making sure that we adhered to government guidelines so from March 23 to the end of July we were pretty much closed. The majority of staff were furloughed.”

Its factories reopened with social distancing in place and extra shifts.

“We then took the decision to really keep on with the investment. One thing we’ve learned from the past is when the world does reopen, there’s always going to be a demand,” said Mr Robertson.  

“Although 2020 was a poor year, what it means is that currently our order book is the best it’s been in the past five to six years or potentially even longer.”

He added: “There’s extreme confidence in the brand and the product.

“Last year was a blip – as I think it was a blip for a good proportion of the world. We’re back stronger than ever with a fantastic product and a really good majority shareholder, ready to take on the world.”

The accounts reveal Sunseeker’s total number of employees fell from 2,357 to 2,011 last year. Manufacturing jobs were down from 2,020 to 1,720, while the number of jobs in sales and administration dropped from 337 to 291.

The company received £17.9m from the government’s furlough scheme.

Sunseeker finance director Jason Stewart said the company had received a total of £82.5m from its parent company in the form of capital investment plus a £25m loan.

“We’re expecting financially to get back to at least break-even if not profit, from an EBITDA perspective,” he said.

In a statement, chief executive Andrea Frabetti said: “Sunseeker and all our teams have risen to this challenging year brilliantly. We managed the disruption to our business due to the pandemic remarkably well.

“Despite the three-month closure of production, we primed and invested heavily in world-class new product development, resulting in a strong forward order book."

The accounts show Sunseeker's turnover dropped by 50 per cent over the year, although in the final quarter of 2020 it was close to 80 per cent of the equivalent figure for 2019.