A new company, Prout UK, has taken over the Canvey Island premises of Prout Catamarans, in administration since 12 September.
Administrators were called in on September 12 to Prout Catamarans Ltd, the UK’s only production cruising catamaran builder, 14 months after the boatbuilder was bought by US-based diversified boat charter, marinas and condominiums group Quest Marine. A new company, Prout UK, has now been formed and is continuing to trade from the former Prout Catamaran’s yard at Canvey Island in Essex. There have been no redundancies.
According to Quest Marine’s president Jean Larroux, Prout UK has signed new agreements for virtually all of the existing 11 boats in build at present. Larroux told IBI that the boatbuilder would no longer be contract building the Moody 32 and 34.
“There’s been no interruption in the production process,” said Larroux. To increase efficiency, Larroux says that the former Prout Catamaran’s extensive range, which comprised around 12 models, will be streamlined. Models to stay are the 38 and 46 sailing catamarans and a new 43 sport rig cat is to be introduced. The boatbuilder will continue with its line of Panther power cats and yachts over 60ft, which will be built at the Concordia Yard in Rayong, Thailand.
Designs for new 46 and 53 power cats are coming on line soon. The builder’s kit boat operation will be discontinued. Tooling for the new 43 model is soon to be shipped from Quest’s Concordia Yachting yard in Rayong. “Strategically Prout had too many models. The problem was that when it introduced a new model it continued to make the old model as well. There’s being flexible in your approach and we are a semi-custom builder. However, the pressure of the marketplace means we need fast pace production. Favourable exchange rates enjoyed by our French competitors and their faster boat production, meant Prout was finding it harder and harder to compete in its present format.”
According to Larroux, the UK yard was taking around 5,000 man hours to produce a 38-footer, double what had originally been estimated when Quest bought the yard in July 2000. Every boat sold in the past two years, he said, sold at a loss.
Even so, Larroux says the yard is optimistic. Prout UK is soon to take delivery of two hanger buildings which should help increase capacity: “With the two semi-permanent hangers we hope to up production to about 50-60 boats a year,” he says.
The company has just sold a 70ft sailing cat as well as its first Thai-built 70 ft powercat to a US owner. An Ed Dubois sailing catamaran is also in build in Thailand and sea trials on the 64 begin in January. Prout UK is also about to embark on a marketing campaign to promote the brand. “From an operational point of view and a productivity point of view, the yard is running a lot more smoothly,” said Larroux.
Quest says it is looking to expand its dealer network, especially in the US where Prout UK is represented by only one dealer at present.