New owner for UK boatbuilder Cornish Crabbers

Cornish Crabber boat in a yard being finished off Main image of a brand new Pilot Cutter 30 under construction courtesy of Cornish Crabbers Fans Facebook.

British boatbuilder Cornish Crabbers has been acquired by a team led by Ben Walker of Blue Lagoon Marine.

The team has acquired the brand Cornish Crabbers, along with its intellectual property and the moulds for ongoing production. These acquisitions were made directly from the liquidators of Cornish Crabbers LLP after the brand entered voluntary liquidation in March.

“We cannot let this classic brand just disappear, “ says Walker. The new set-up, which has been funded privately, will establish sales of the brand out of Blue Lagoon Marine in Dorset.

In its unaudited financial statements published 31 December 2022, the company was looking at over £1m owed to creditors in a variety of forms (including bank loans and taxes).

“It has been quite complicated“, says Walker, “and we have had the added complication of customers’ boats mid-way through production to deal with.“

The production will remain in Cornwall under the supervision of the new Cornish Crabbers Ltd. A new website is being constructed, covering the Cornish Crabber lineup, which comprises the Shrimper 17, 19 and 21; Crabber 24 and 26; and Pilot 30.

Although the team has acquired the brand Mystery, primarily 35 and 30 models, a new suitor will be found to continue sales and production of these two boats. Walker and his team say this decision is because the boats are “seen somewhat out of sync with the classic and traditional Cornish Crabber.”

When news of the liquidation broke earlier this year, one anonymous industry source told MIN: “There are too many crabbers out there, loved by many people, for the company to disappear completely. Look at its history, it always comes back from the brink. There are always people who want crabbers. Someone will grab it at some point and it will be a profitable boatbuilding business once again, I’m sure. It’s a classic shape and design that people love.”

Cornish Crabbers was established in 1979 (building on the foundation of Westerly Boats), and became what it terms as ‘a nautical icon’ with the introduction of the Shrimper 19, a design by the acclaimed Roger Dongray.

In 2009, the brand was bought by previous customer and entrepreneur Philip Langsdale. Select Yachts, which then made the Cornish Crabber range, collapsed in November 2008. At the time, Thomas – who was by then sales manager – told the BBC that most of the £700,000 investment had “gone into buying the factory instead of renting the factory and just securing people’s jobs well into next year.

“The order book is covering that quite happily at the moment and next year we’re hoping to get near 30 people in total.”

By 2001 the company had established itself as the leading producer of gaff-rigged boats, and was producing 12 sailboat designs plus powerboats.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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