Fascinating article in the DT today about Sunseeker boats. The company was founded in the 1960s by Robert and John Braithwaite in Poole after working in their Father’s boat yard. The company went from strength to strength. However the last couple of years were difficult as Robert Braithwaite (an article in 2008 values his family’s worth at £120m based on owning 60% of Sunseeker) decided to support the brand when the UK dealer when into liquidation. Shortly after, “a number of boats were sent to a foreign dealer, all on the basis of trust, and that dealer went under. The boats disappeared”. And I guess the cash flow sunk.
Dublin based FL Partners stepped in and raised £25m from a group of “seven or eight” equity backers who invested directly into Sunseeker including Brian Souter of Stagecoach and Dream Beds founder Mike Clare. Robert Braithwaite remains a major shareholder with “about a quarter of the company and is promoted to President.
It is still a rather sad end to nearly fifty years in business for the Braithwaite family but it could have been a lot, lot worse.
The article talks about new managers and I wonder if the big losers are the younger Braithwaites who might have hoped to inherit the “sheets” (as reins might be called in the boating world). Pity the article did not include an Equity Fingerprint (a business plan resource) nor mention the way in which PL Finance will be rewarded.
I wonder what happened to the Father’s business. Was it taken over as Sunseeker expanded? So many great people stories about business and founders.
Hat tip: Daily Telegraph. Monday interview by Johnathan Sibun Monday 26 September 2011.