AROUND 300 people are to lose their jobs by Christmas at Poole’s luxury boatbuilder Sunseeker.

The bombshell came on Friday afternoon as bosses told staff the outcome of a two-month review of the business.

The company – which employs around 2,500 people in the town – says it is streamlining ‘non-core’ activities and investing in bringing new models to market more quickly.

Sunny Thakrar, group executive director of Sunseeker International, told the Daily Echo: “In the last couple of months, Sunseeker have been undertaking a strategic review of the business as to how we make sure we have long-term, sustainable growth in the future.”

He said the result was that around 300 administrative and managerial roles were set to be cut. A 45-day consultation over the proposed redundancies is expected to be over by the end of the year.

The Chinese commercial property conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group acquired almost 92 per cent of Sunseeker shares last summer for £320m.

But Mr Thakrar insisted the company remained committed to Poole and would be investing in the town.

“This is not about taking jobs to China or any of the production, engineering or design functions. Quite the opposite,” he said.

He said the company was investing in its ability to bring new models to market.

“The core boat-building, design and production activities will always be Poole-centric,” he added.

He said the company had full order books for new craft. “It’s also our intention to look at perhaps bringing back some of our iconic models as well like the Superhawk and Tomahawk,” he added.

“We’re streamlining our businesses to take away any activity that’s not really needed.”

Staff leaving the company’s sites at Poole Quay and Mannings Heath yesterday had been told not to comment.

One contractor working at the site said: “It’s sad news for a lot of local families.”

A member of staff, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the announcement was “not a great surprise”.

He said the job losses affected office staff but the company needed the boat-building skills of its factory workers.

Announcement is severe blow to Poole's economy

THE announcement that Sunseeker would be shedding 300 jobs has come as a severe blow to Poole’s economy.

It followed encouraging unemployment figures earlier in the week, which showed the number of jobseekers’ allowance claimants in the town stood at 1,005 in September – down 0.6 per cent from September 2013.

Roger Williams, president of Poole Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said of the Sunseeker announcement: “It’s a great shame for Poole but I think not unexpected, bearing in mind the changes they’ve been through with ownership in the past few years.

“That doesn’t help the immediate fact that 300 people are losing their jobs. Hopefully they will be skilled and will be able to re-position themselves somewhere.”

But he was encouraged that boat-building staff had not been cut. “That would indicate to me that they see things as good. It’s a case of cutting to make themselves leaner.”

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "Sunseeker is a world renowned brand and obviously a major employer in Poole.

"Clearly this is not good news at a local level and for those who are directly affected. From Sunseeker's perspective it seems they have looked at a changing market and are restructuring their backline whilst continuing a focus on production in Poole. Businesses need to adapt in an ever-changing world.”

Poole MP Robert Syms said Sunseeker had to operate in a “very competitive market” where many of its competition received subsidies.

“It’s no wonder their costs are under some pressure and they are having to look at their business model,” he added.

“But they seem committed to Poole and the south west. There are a lot of skilled people locally who have helped them build up their success.

“You have to be concerned for the workers who might lose their jobs as a result of the restructuring. I and the Local Enterprise Partnership will do everything we can do to help them if it comes to that.”

Poole council leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson said: "We are disappointed to hear that Sunseeker in Poole are likely to make a number of their staff redundant.

“We, along with other government agencies such as JobCentre Plus, will be working with Sunseeker to help all of those that may be affected.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Sunseeker: a history

Sunseeker has been making motorboats since 1979, when it began in a Poole boatyard under brothers Robert and John Braithwaite.

For many years the company was the largest privately-owned firm in the region and the world’s largest privately-owned builder of motor yachts.

Its yachts have been bought by the likes of Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan and have played a high-profile role in four James Bond films.

It currently employs some 2,500 staff.

In 2007, the company acquired the 11.5 acre Luhrs Marine Factory site at Osprey Quay in Portland for £7m and announced a major expansion and creation of 500 new jobs.

In July 2012 the founder of luxury yacht builder Robert Braithwaite stepped down from his day-to-day role, becoming group president of the Poole-based firm and no longer having an executive or board post.

In his four decades at the company, he had seen it transformed into a global yacht design-and-build business with annual sales approaching £300million.

In June last year, a stake of almost 92 per cent in Sunseeker was sold to Chinese commercial property conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group for £320million.

The new owners said the day-to-day running of Sunseeker in Poole would be unaffected, with its 2,500-strong workforce keeping their jobs.

Earlier this year, managing director Stewart McIntyre stood down and a special board committee was set up by the Chinese owners with responsibility for appointing a new CEO. In the interim, Wanda Group endorsed the appointment of Robert Braithwaite as acting president.

The company unveiled its 155 yacht – the largest private motor yacht built in the UK – in April this year and said it would be announcing a market-leading new model programme for 2015 and beyond as it approached the European boat show season.

In April this year, the company pulled out of its long term sponsorship deal with the motor rally event previously known as Rallye Sunseeker.