Southampton based Discovery Yachts Group has today announced the acquisition of the Southerly range of swing keel cruising yachts

Discovery Yachts has bought fellow British cruising yacht brand Southerly in a bid to become one of the UK’s leading yacht builders.

It means Discovery will have a highly versatile range of quality cruising yachts, both swing keel and fixed keel monohulls and catamarans from 32 to 67ft.

A new product launch for the Southerly brand will be announced at the Southampton Boat Show this September and Discovery Cataramans will have their own ‘Bluewater’ branding too

The Southerly brand, under Northshore Yachts, went through two bankruptcies in 2013 and 2014. The builder, which once employed 165 people at its Itchenor Shipyard, was rescued from receivership with debts of nearly £2m – before it went bankrupt again the following year with the loss of 50 jobs and a reputed list of creditors owed.

The surprising part is that no other builder has since tried to fill the niche that the popular variable draught yachts had created. Southerly formed in 1978 and has over 900 owners worldwide.

It looks like a smart decision by Discovery to extend the range and versatility of its brand with another that fits well in its portfolio. The modern Rob Humphreys and Stephen Jones designed Southerlys are excellent designs that were built to a high standard.

Discovery’s Managing Director Sean Langdon points out that the only other proper variable draught production yachts are French aluminium models. He told us that he has he been trying to buy the Southerly brand for a few years now. He ended up buying Discovery and then Southerly, convinced that the only way to start Southerly up again “was with another prominent brand.”

The sale includes ‘everything other than the people and buildings’ – ie the moulds and the name (the assets were never in the company name reportedly). Northshore Yacht Services, located at their shipyard at Itchenor, Chichester Harbour, will continue to be an approved specialist Southerly refit and repair centre and Southerly Yacht Brokerage.

Langdon says that the existing Southerly models will be refreshed and rebranded with ‘simpler’ number systems – two for Discovery, three for Southerly. So the Southerly 32 will become a 330, the 38 a 390 and the centre cockpit models will have a five in them (42 will be 425).

“The branding will be kept very separate,” says Langdon, adding “but there is the potential to share tooling for two different brands.” So we can expect to see the new Discovery 48 launching next year, offered as a swing-keel cruiser under the Southerly brand for example.

New Southerly models will now be built at Discovery’s Marchwood facility and include its typically high level of interior finish. Langdon is taking on 10 new staff in the coming weeks and plans to add another 20 during the year to take employee numbers back up to 90 by the end of 2017.

“I truly believe that Southerly and Discovery, with the catamarans alongside, will give us a really strong group going forward,” said Langdon.