AN Irish investment firm has acquired a “significant majority stake” in Poole-based boat builder Sunseeker International.

Staff at Sunseeker’s yard on Poole Quay were called to a meeting yesterday to be told that FL Partners had invested £25m in the company.

One worker said managers had explained that despite a full order book, loan repayments had sparked the need for further investment.

“The mood among the workforce had been low. We haven’t had a pay rise or bonus for two years. But, to be fair, they’ve done extremely well to keep such a strong order book and they’ve never made redundancies.

“I think that if the new investors can deliver long term stability, that has to be a good thing,” he said.

Sunseeker employs over 2,300 people at sites in Poole and Portland. Retired Formula One champion, Nigel Mansell, and rapper, Pharrell Williams, are among the company’s celebrity clients.

FL Partners – which owns the Racing Post and media interests in Ireland – has also refinanced Sunseeker’s debt.

Co-founder, Robert Braithwaite, becomes the largest single shareholder outside FL Partners, and the firm’s president and non-executive chairman.

Mr Braithwaite said he was delighted to welcome FL’s directors, Peter Crowley and Neill Hughes, as partners to the company he started in the early 1970s as Poole Power Boats.

“The combination of significant new equity capital together with our existing market-leading positions is a compelling one.

“Sunseeker will continue to capture the imagination of its customers in all segments of the market and will have a very exciting future.”

Transport magnate Brian Souter, who owns the Stagecoach bus and train company, is one of the investors enticed by FL Partners.

His personal investment vehicle, Souter Investments, will be represented on Sunseeker’s board of directors.

The firm’s new managing director, Stuart McIntyre, had previously served as chief operating officer. He told the Daily Echo the firm’s commitment to Poole was “total” and “absolute”.