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A sad day for Najad as economic decline claims another victim

by Des Ryan on 10 Aug 2011
68-year-old Jeanne Socrates on Nereida, her Najad 38, in which she became the oldest woman to solo circumnavigate the world .. .
One of the best known names in international boat building for the last forty years has fallen victim to the economic downturn across the Western world. Swedish boat-builder Najad (Najadvarvet AB) has announced that it has submitted a petition for bankruptcy in the District Court at Addevalla, and the court has declared them bankrupt.

The CEO of the company, Mikael Gustavsson, blamed a major liquidity crisis, weak sales, long-term decline in boat demand and ongoing difficulties in financial markets around the world for its demise. He said, 'It is a very difficult and sad day for everyone at Najadvarvet AB, including employees, customers, suppliers and partners.'

More than 2,000 yachts have been launched under the Najad and Maxi brand names in the company's 40-year history. In the last few years, Najadvaret AB has developed and manufactured yachts under the trademarks 'Najad' and 'Maxi Yachts' at the factories in Henån and Åmål.

Most notably, British solo sailor Jeanne Socrates used a Najad 38, Nereida, in her circumnavigation of the world which made her the oldest woman ever to achieve the feat.

For more than 35 years the business was successfully run by founder Berndt Arvidsson, who sold the company in 2006 to a Dutch owner, Alfred van Wincoop.

In 2009 the company was saved from bankruptcy by Animatrix Capital LLP but despite a substantial cash injection and increased efficiency, boat sales were still lower than hoped and orders and prospects for the rest of 2011 were very weak. Mr Gustavsson said they were powerless to prevent bankruptcy happening this time around.

He added: 'We have turned every stone in our attempts to avoid this situation. Today, our last efforts have failed. The parent company is insolvent and therefore has to file for bankruptcy.'

The board made the decision at the time of the year when all orders have been delivered to customers so that ‘a minimal number' will suffer bankruptcy.

The company has issued a formal statement, which reads:

'During the last 21 months, the new principal owner, Animatrix Capital LLP, has contributed substantive funds to the company. Less than 9 months ago, a major effort was made through a new, reinforced management. The new management has accomplished extensive increases in efficiency and rationalization of the company's business operations. From the time of the Open Yards 2010, the company has managed to sell 42 boats, whereof 25 were new. However, during the spring of 2011 the sales have reduced substantially and the outstanding orders and prospects for the fall of 2011 are very limited.

'The commitment of the employees and their will to contribute has surpassed all our expectations. Despite this commitment to save the company, the misguided ventures during 2006-2009 have caused the company severe and irreparable damage. Due to old disputes and conflicts with third parties as well as other problems, the extensive injections of capital have not been sufficient to save the company. For several years now the market segment for prestige yachts on the international market has for been characterised by strong competition, downward pressure on prices and poor profitability. During the spring of 2011 the market continued to deteriorate, and due to this it is no longer possible to run a profitable business. Therefore, the board of Najadvarvet AB sees no other solution than to file for bankruptcy.

'It is a very difficult and sad day for everyone at Najadvarvet AB, including employees, customers, suppliers and partners. We have turned every stone in our attempts to avoid this situation. Today, our last efforts have failed. The parent company is insolvent and therefore has to file for bankruptcy', writes Mikael Gustavsson, managing director and group chief executive for Najadvarvet AB.

'The decision was taken by the board at a point in time during the year when all sold and manufactured boats have been delivered to the customers, which means that a minimal amount of customers will suffer from the bankruptcy. The debts due to suppliers are at the lowest point of the year. All of the company's very skilled employees have received their salary for July and the statutory wage guarantee ought to enter into force as to cover the salary payment in August.

'It is our hope that the efforts employed during the last period will lead to a continued operation of the entire or at least parts of the business' says Hans Johansson, chairman of the board of Najadvarvet AB.'
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