Cushendall Company, Red Bay Boats Limited, is forecasting a healthy increase in sales of both its range of Fastfisher Fishing Boats and Stormforce RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) following a recent factory expansion that will enable the company to increase productivity and manufacture larger models for both market segments.

The Invest Northern Ireland backed company has recently doubled its factory size bringing production space to 15,000 sq ft. The extension will allow it to streamline production processes and respond to demands from the market for larger craft.

Red Bay Boats, which employs 16, has been designing and building fibreglass fishing boats and large RIBs for over 25 years. With help from Invest NI it has developed RIBs in a range of sizes up to 11-metres. With the increased capacity and manufacturing capability created by the factory extension the company has decided to begin development of a prototype of a 15-metre boat. This will be aimed at the market for high-speed commercial and leisure boats, similar to those used by patrol and survey teams.

Red Bay Boats’ Managing Director, Tom McLaughlin comments: “The new factory space has meant improvements for us not just in terms of a more efficient workflow but also in terms of improved customer care and opportunities for new business. Our old facility was too cramped and prevented us from manufacturing the larger RIBs and developing new models. The new facility will allow us to work on larger vessels and improve our production processes. We have also created a ‘Customer Suite’ incorporating a dedicated area with working displays of navigational equipment where we can meet with our customers and discuss the individual specification of their new boat. This provides our customers with a total package tailored to their own specific requirements. “

Tom points to the wide-ranging support Red Bay Boats has received from Invest NI as an important element in the company’s development. “As well as assisting the extension of the premises, Invest NI has given us technical and financial support in the development and marketing of our products. Invaluable support has also been provided to assist the business develop the skills of its management team and improve its use of technology.”

The recreational boat market has grown significantly in recent years and it is now estimated that 3.2 million people in the UK live in a household that owns a boat. The upward trend is set to continue and Red Bay Boats is taking advantage of the growing interest in leisure crafts with an innovative approach to marketing, the Red Bay Boats Owner’s Club. The Club organises regular outings to the Scottish Islands for Stormforce RIB owners and their craft. These outings have been a resounding success as a networking event, leading to increased sales for the company.

Trevor Robinson, Client Executive with Invest NI’s North Eastern Local Office said: “Red Bay Boats is an important manufacturing business in the Moyle area. Invest NI is keen to support companies like this which have a focus on product development and a willingness to respond to the demands of the market. Red Bay Boats has engaged in market led product development that has kept its range up to date in a marketplace that has changed significantly in the last 10 years. This factory extension will allow the company to increase its product range further and target new markets. ”