THE MORAY Firth town of Buckie was offered fresh hope today with the announcement that the local shipyard has been sold - four months after being placed in administration with the loss of more than 70 jobs.
The Buckie Shipyard was one of Scotland’s last traditional boat-building yards but was forced to close in August after running into financial problems.
But today a spokesman for Joint Administrators Iain Fraser and Tom MacLennan of FRP Advisory revealed that the specialist restructuring and recovery firm had sold the main fabrication building and a range of plant and machinery at the Buckie yard to Macduff Shipyards Ltd, based 18 miles along the coast.
The lease for the launching ramp, lying adjacent to the main fabrication building, has also been assigned to Macduff Shipyards as part of the deal.
The spokesman said: “The transactions are for an undisclosed sum. Macduff Shipyards Ltd is highly regarded throughout Europe for producing high quality commercial vessels in steel and aluminium of up to 35 metres. Conversions, modernisations, refits and repairs are also undertaken. Macduff Shipyards Ltd is part of the Macduff
Shipyards Group, whose origins stretch back to 1940 and which also provides crane Hire, steel profiling and specialist engineering services.”
John Watt, managing director of Macduff Shipyards, said: “Macduff Shipyards remains very busy and we continue to develop as a business. This facility will enable greater flexibility in our continued diversification.”
Mr Fraser said: “We are delighted Macduff Shipyards Group has acquired the main assets and is planning to recommence works on this historic site. It is a highly regarded company that has extensive knowledge of the market and of the area and we wish them every success with their new venture. My team and I at FRP Advisory would also like to thank everyone that has worked with us to preserve this important ship-building and engineering facility.”
The tradition of shipbuilding in Buckie which dates back to 1903. The Buckie Shipyard was created in 1995 when the associated Jones and Herd & Mackenzie yards in the town were saved from closure following their sale to the Renfrew-based Lithgows group.
The company employed 74 staff and last year had a reported turnover of around £3 million.
Macduff Shipyards has declined to reveal how many jobs could be created as a result of the takeover of the Buckie yard.
But Moray Council today said that the authority was “strongly committed” to securing a new role for Buckie Shipyard and to ensuring its future as a vital industrial base.
A council spokesman said: “Vigorous efforts are to be made to market the area of the shipyard to the north of Commercial Road which is owned by the council and had been the subject of a long-term lease to Buckie Shipyard Ltd before it went into administration. We are keen to hear expressions of interests for the site, which occupies a prime location adjoining Buckie harbour. The site has been used for boatbuilding and repairs for over a century and it has tremendous potential.”
He added: “The administrators received a number of expressions of interest in the days and weeks after the yard closed and we would encourage anyone to contact us with any proposals they might have.”
Councillor John Cowe, chairman of Moray Council’s economic development and infrastructure service committee, said the yard had been part of Buckie’s industrial heritage for generations and he was optimistic about its future. He continued: “We will be doing everything possible as a council to make sure that this prominent site - which has been an industrial landmark for as long as people can remember – is put to good use and has a productive future.
“The council recognises that the site has huge potential, not just as a ship building and maintenance facility but could be used for other opportunities that would support the harbour and promote the local and wider economy of Moray. Therefore the council is open to any suggestions in terms of what the future might hold for the shipyard site and we will be available to discuss any proposals that might be put forward.”
Buckie councillor Gordon McDonald, who chairs both the Buckie Harbour Advisory Committee and the Buckie Regeneration Group, said: “I am pleased to see the southern part of the shipyard being deployed and I hope that there will be local jobs created as result of this venture.I have already been in communication with Macduff Shipyards and hope to meet with them soon to discuss their future plans in Buckie.”
David Oxley, the area manager for Highlands and Islands Enterprise in Moray, said: “We are obviously delighted that Buckie’s long history with shipbuilding is to continue. Following the sudden and unexpected blow when Buckie Shipyard was forced into administration, we have worked closely with our colleagues in the Moray Economic Partnership to support the town in an uncertain time, and today’s news is a positive step forward.”
He continued: “The top priorities have been to support staff who lost their jobs and to work with the administrators to identify opportunities for the future of the site. The news that respected North East firm Macduff Shipyards has bought one of the key facilities is to be welcomed. We will work with the firm to grow and drive their business and investment in Moray.
“We also continue to work alongside Moray Council as it seeks to unlock the huge potential of the harbour site. We are supportive of its plans to find the best options for the future development of the main part of the shipyard, which it owns.”