Super yacht builder Fitzroy Yachts announced yesterday it was closing its boat building operation at the end of February.
Managing director Rodney Martin said the decision would result in a substantial number of jobs lost within the company, which had 120 staff.
He described it as being "the end of an era" for a company that began 15 years ago and said one of their top priorities now was to find work for staff who would become jobless after the completion of their current project at the end of February.
"In New Plymouth, prospects look good for 2014 and the business community will do everything they can to help out our boys," he said.
Mr Martin said the company was unable to secure a contract to build a yacht after the completion of its current project, a 37.5 metre sloop FY17, on February 28.
He said the resulting loss of jobs was extremely regrettable, but unavoidable.
"Our priority now is to complete the boat in time to the quality standard the company is known for."
He said the company was looking at continuing with a design and technology team and he would stay in his role as managing director, to which he was appointed in 2008.
"We are not ruling anything out for the future," he said.
He said the damage done by the global financial crisis and the strong New Zealand dollar had also been a factor.
The huge amount of effort Mr Martin said the company had put into trying to sell new boats had not paid off in the end.
"We came close to picking up a new contract in the two weeks before Christmas," he said. But it was not to be.
Gloria Campbell, the regional commissioner for social development, met Mr Martin yesterday to discuss ways to support affected staff.
"What we have here is a group of highly-skilled workers whose skills and experience will be sought after here in Taranaki and much wider afield.
"Right now, our focus is on transitioning the affected workers, therefore, Work and Income and a number of other parties including Venture Taranaki Trust representatives will be meeting early next week to develop a plan to ensure affected staff can smoothly transition in to further employment," she said.
Venture Taranaki's chief executive Stuart Trundle said it was important the community came together to support those affected by the news.
"Our focus now needs to shift to ensuring we regionally retain the capacity and capabilities of those affected by the decision.
"We have a caring community. It's important that we bring together the resources we have to maximise support for people affected by this decision."
New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd extended his sympathy to all affected by the closure. "It's a sad day for such a well-established and high profile business."
He said he would do all he could to support staff in finding new jobs in Taranaki and encouraged other members of the business community to do the same.
New Plymouth's National MP Jonathan Young said it was important to try to retain the company's workforce in the region.
"They are a highly-skilled workforce who will be in high demand in Taranaki and the rest of the country.
"We would like to retain those people in our community's workforce if we can."
- Taranaki Daily News
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