An historic shipyard in Devon is set to reopen after it was bought by AIM-listed Infrastrata in a deal worth £7m, in a rare boost for the UK’s manufacturing sector.
Appledore shipyard, situated on the River Torridge near Bideford, shut last year when defence giant Babcock decided that the site had no future.
However, the iconic site, which first opened in 1855, will now reopen, providing around 350 jobs.
The site is the second shipyard which asset management firm Infrastrata has bought in the past year, after it acquired Belfast-based Harland & Wolff in December.
The Devon site will now be known as Harland & Wolff (Appledore).
On a visit to the historic shipbuilder’s today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the site had a “great future”.
“What we want to do is to ensure that there’s a good enough stream of contracts coming through to drive jobs and growth here in Devon,” Mr Johnson said.
Infrastrata said the smaller size of the shipyard’s dock would give it a competitive advantage.
“There are very few shipyards in the UK that can offer this type of undercover building dock and repair facility and, given the number of sovereign vessels required in this category over the next ten years, the company believes that this is a market segment that cannot be ignored”, it said in a statement.
The Appledore site stands in stark contrast to Harland & Wolff’s Belfast yard, which has two dry docks measuring 356m and 556m respectively.
It added that the Devon site would be ideal for any spillover work from the Belfast shipbuilder, as well as its own specific set of contracts, including fabrication work for renewable assets such as wind farms.
Infrastrata said it was aiming to achieve a “dominant position” at both ends of the UK shipbuilding market.
John Wood, the firm’s chief executive, said: “The acquisition at this point in time is opportunistic for the Company and one that should not be missed.
“It not only gives us a strategic foothold in mainland UK but also makes the overall business highly competitive in the smaller and higher ends of the shipyard market, respectively.”
Shares in the firm rose two per cent in today’s trading.