Manufacturer of luxury performance boats.
Company name: Sunseeker
Company size: Large
Company web site:
Nr. of Employees: 250<

Case summary:
Sunseeker is a company that has achieved international Market Leadership by incremental, yet permanent Innovation. The company designs and manufactures some of the most desirable and luxurious performance boats in the world. Each ship is being manufactured to accommodate the specific requirements of each customer, and to maintain excellence, a Design Culture is encouraged in the whole staff. Beyond the Problem solving activity the overall objective is to improve the performance of the ships. Design is clearly a key element in the success of the company. It is an integrator of all the Customers and business requirements. The key factor of success is the knowledge Management approach that is implemented inside the company. There is no clear cut barrier between the Design department and the production line, in that sense, Design Management is strategic to the company. One of the milestones that was achieved by Sunseeker was the successful challenging of the Regulations set for certifying ships. This opened a whole New Market for the company while capitalizing on its Expertise.

Sunseeker, excellence in co-ordination

When the ship building industry of Great Britain started to decline 30 years ago, vast ship yards employing 1000s of people of all trades were facing stiff competition from the Far East and losing traditional UK contracts that were once the main stay of the industry. Around the same time, two brothers, Robert and John Braith waite set out to design and build performance boats in the new pleasure boat market. Today their company designs and manufactures some of the most desirable and luxurious performance boats in the world. The Sunseeker International shipyards based in Poole, Dorset is one of the largest employers in the area with over two thousand highly skilled staff providing almost the entire boat building capacity from design, engineering, manufacture and marketing in one company. However, this is where the comparisons with the past finish as this company has an export rate of 98%, with a world wide market to help them override the instabilities of globalisation and recessions.

From the moment they decided they could make faster and better boats themselves than other manufacturers at the time, the Braithwaite brothers have striven for perfection and success – two difficult attributes to manage side by side, but they recognised the role design can play in achieving them and invested heavily in this strategy. This brought them to the forefront of the market where they remain with an impressive range of innovative and leading edge products.

Sunseeker is the world’s largest privately owned boat builder with an annual turnover in excess of £220million. John Braithwaite, one half of the partnership (his brother Robert is the managing director) is responsible for all aspects of the design, development and production of their boats. Their personal passion for the products and close control of the business fuels their high re-investment into R&D (6% of turnover). With design clearly represented at the highest level of the business, John Braithwaite comments on the advantage this brings to the products;

“You have a total overview of what you are actually creating so that all aspects of what is being done you can make sure it is totally integrated design rather than a design by committee.” – John Braithwaite, Technical Director, Sunseeker International…

Download Full Article…

Return to Top