Have We Seen the Last of Alloy Yachts?


Drive past the Alloy Yachts build sheds in Henderson New Zealand and it is apparent that there is little going on at this one prolific superyacht building shipyard. What little activity there is, is centred on maintenance.

In recent weeks hundreds of suppliers to the company have received e-mails from Kevin Augustin the company’s Research & Development Manager announcing the sell off of what it calls; machinery and plant that is clearly laying idle. Horizontal Bulldozer presses for shaping aluminium sheet are being offered at NZ$15,000, while a milling machine is on offer at $60K.

“In addition to these items,” says Augustin, “There are: airlines, welding machines, hand tools, power tools, pneumatic hand tools, power leads power boxes and extension leads.” Everything it seems is for sale from $150 bench grinder to a massive lathe offered at $60K.

Does this mean we have seen the last of the Alloy Yacht launches?

For over 28 years, Alloy Yachts worked hard to become a superyacht icon in New Zealand, synonymous with luxury, seaworthiness, engineering excellence and craftsmanship. Alongside these core values fostered by the builder, came a passion for the yachts they produced.

The success of the brand is intrinsically linked to owners Gary Lane and Tony Hambrook, the man who became Managing Director in 1989 and has guided the company through its years of growth. The yachts have mostly been winners be they for design and build or for sailing fast round the racetrack. Just mention the names Kokomo, Mondago, Salperton or Vertigo and whoever is listening is bound to talk about Alloy.

Clearly things are going wrong but it is not immediately clear why. Some blame exchange rates others the Global Financial Crisis while some blame attitude. Whatever the reason, superyacht owners who have, in the past built there, are now turning to Europe to have their floating masterpieces crafted.

Greg Kelly Managing Director of panel mounting system Fastmount supplied vast quantities of their labour saving clips to the builder confirmed that it is some time now since they last delivered an order to the yard. “While we are hugely disappointed to see them not building yachts, we cannot say we are suffering because of it. Our clips are already being used all over the world but now with the slow down at Alloy we are opening up new markets here in New Zealand. What is happening,” he explained, “Is that talented craftsmen are leaving the shipyard and are moving into other trades and they are taking their knowledge of our product with them. One example of this is architectural carpentry.   We know of a former Alloy employee who now works for a door manufacturer. We now supply him with clips and that is opening up a whole new avenue of potential sales for us.”

“The demise of a shipyard is not just a New Zealand story,” says Michael Eaglen Chief Executive Officer of yacht builders McMullen & Wing. “I think all major yacht building nations have seen upheaval amongst their builders over the past 5 years or so.  Most have struggled at times, certainly all of us have had to change.  Many have had to bring in outside capital and ultimately quite a number of shipyards have closed.”

“New Zealand hasn’t ever had very many superyacht builders, although collectively we have been a substantial presence in our segment across the world market.  Losing both Alloy and Fitzroy is a significant impact, but it’s only two shipyards.  Other yacht building nations have lost a lot more than that.”

“At McMullen & Wing we count ourselves lucky to have been very busy for the past 12 months during which we have had to endure the most extreme currency overvaluation. Now as we start to look for our next projects we are doing so in a more normal environment.  Sure, the new build market remains quite tight, but in recent weeks our NZ Dollar exchange has returned to more normal levels, which brings us back to where we are now seriously competitive with our competitors around the world.”