Richard Hadida Yachting has acquired Oyster Marine it emerged today (March 20), six weeks after the British yard went into administration.
Speaking exclusively to Boat International, the new owner and interim CEO said: "My intention is to get people back to work tomorrow, get costs down and increase the speed of the build." Hinting at a new entry-level model, he added: "Rather than making Oysters exclusive to people who have the money to buy a 50 foot (15 metre) yacht, we want to open it up to new owners. The sooner we get them into the family, the better."
"I was on holiday with [Boat International columnist] Eddie Jordan in Cape Town when the news came through and I thought: ‘I need to do something about this,'" Hadida continued. Having sailed regularly on Jordan's Oyster 885 yacht Lush, the new yard owner has developed a love of the yard and its range, which dates back to 1973. "My passion for the brand has driven my decision to acquire the business," he explained.
Oyster recently reported its largest ever order book worth in excess of £80million, and the new ownership will allow construction to resume on its flagship project, the Oyster 118, which is still due for completion before the end of the year, the new management has confirmed. It is anticipated that more than 400 of the original 420-strong workforce will be rehired.
Hadida revealed that 25 further yachts are currently at various stages of completion across Oyster's two sites in Southampton and Wroxham, and confirmed that long-term design partner Rob Humphreys will continue his close collaboration with the yard.
"Oyster will have a much stronger and much more assured future now," Humphreys told Boat International. "I’ve known [Hadida] for more than two years now — he’s a very good sailor and passionate about the brand.
"I wrote to him early on when this all happened, but he didn’t need much encouragement. He’s a paid-up subscriber to the brand values and wants to push it forward and take it into new markets. It couldn’t be in better hands, really."
What's more, former Sunseeker COO and turnaround specialist Kim Stubbs has been brought on board — it is understood that his 'zero tolerance manufacturing' approach will form a key part of the new business plan.
"I firmly believe we can use the experience of the Sunseeker turnaround to deliver fast, and sustainable results at Oyster," Stubbs said. "We look forward to starting today to deliver on the clear promise of this remarkable sailing marque.”
The deal, which was concluded for an undisclosed sum, includes Oyster Marine Limited as well as Oyster Marine Holdings, meaning that the brand name and trademark, technical designs and drawings, build manuals, hull mouldings, machinery and subsidiary shares have all been purchased.
However the new company, which will trade under the name Oyster Yachts, will carry no liability for the 2015 sinking of the 27.43 metre sailing yacht Polina Star III and any subsequent legal action.
Speaking on behalf of the administrators KPMG, Neil Gostelow said: “We are delighted to have a concluded a sale of the business, ensuring the recommencement of yacht production together with the opportunities for employment that this will bring.”
Meanwhile, former Oyster CEO David Tydeman added: "I’m sure Richard will lead Oyster through the next chapter of its successful history with enthusiasm and care. Thanks to all the team for the fantastic achievements of the last decade — we’re handing Richard a great range of seven new models, and a more cohesive and global brand identity than when we started."