SUNSEEKER has revealed plans to have new and bigger yachts made abroad – but said the move will protect jobs in Dorset.

The Poole-based company has entered a partnership with Dutch company ICON Yachts to produce a 49-metre (160ft), metal-hulled yacht which will launch in 2021.

The company says many customers who have bought its yachts want to move up to bigger models – and it risks losing them if it does not cater for the demand.

International sales director Sean Robertson said: “We feel the team in Poole have spent a huge amount of time building a great database of clients and what we were seeing is we were losing them.

“The danger we saw is that those competitors were eyeing up our great database of clients and saying maybe they should be starting to build smaller boats and getting those clients earlier in the process.”

He added: “To protect the business in Poole and protect the shipyards and the Sunseeker brand, we had to come up with a yard that was synonymous with building larger, steel-hulled yachts.”

He said by offering a wider range, the company could also attract more customers for its smaller boats.

“The message back to Dorset is that this has been done to not only protect but also give us benefits for the future,” he added.

Mr Robertson said the company had spent nearly three years looking for a partner to build a bigger, metal-hulled yacht. He said fibreglass hulls were not accepted in yachts above 140ft. “The marketplace, clients and brokers demand a metal yacht and that’s not our core activity,” he said.

He said Sunseeker’s speciality had been building “fast, exciting motorboats in fibreglass”.

The new craft will use the company’s 60-strong design team in Poole.

Mr Robertson said there could be an opportunity for furniture and other fixtures to be supplied from Dorset in future, but added: “To be honest, I think we’ve got such a great order book at the moment that we even with our current situation and order book we’re struggling to keep up as it is.”

Sunseeker said the success of its 155 Yacht had shown the demand for a bigger Sunseeker.

Mr Robertson added: “Finding experience and expertise in metal build was not the issue. Finding a yard that shared the same progressive, innovative spirit to create something truly special and, most importantly, one which will provide us with the flexibility to build a true Sunseeker was the challenge. We have certainly found all of that with ICON.”

Jen Wartena, chief executive of ICON Yachts, said: “There is a great synergy between ICON and Sunseeker because we are combining both of our strengths; our capacity and metal yacht building capabilities with Sunseeker’s sales expertise and marketing power. I am confident about the partnership because for the past few years there has been a high demand for Dutch pedigree yachts in this size range.

“We believe the Sunseeker by ICON will revolutionise the industry in a positive way.”