The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Fletcher in­creases fleet

Portlethen op­er­a­tor’ s £4.9m out­lay sig­nals con­fi­dence in sec­tor

- BY AL­LIS­TER THOMAS

Ves­sel man­age­ment, plat­form sup­ply and lo­gis­tics com­pany Fletcher Group has in­vested £4.9 mil­lion in two more ships in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a “ris­ing mar­ket” in the North Sea.

The ad­di­tion of the FS Crathes and FS Carrick takes the Aberdeen shire based com­pany’ s fleet size to 15, with the orig­i­nal 13 all cur­rently work­ing on con­tracts.

Work has still to be found for the lat­est two ves­sels but the firm is “con­fi­dent” they will re­ceive con­tracts in the com­ing months.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Keith Fletcher said: “It’s in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a ris­ing mar­ket. The ves­sels are be­ing mo­bilised.

“They are now Bri­tish flagged and all of the ves­sels are work­ing in the North Sea mar­ket.

“The last two, we don’t have con­tracts for them but we’re con­fi­dent that we will find work for them in the com­ing months.

“We’re see­ing con­tracts for rigs and for drilling and as soon as you get that, you need ships to sup­port them. I don’t know how long that will con­tinue through the win­ter months but we ex­pect more ac­tiv­ity in 2019 and 2020.”

The ves­sels were bought from Nor­we­gian com­pany North­ern Marine. They were both built and de­signed in Nor­way and are about eight years old.

Fletcher Group is based in Portlethen and was cre­ated from the re­struc­tur­ing of FS Ship­ping, which went into ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2017.

FS Ship­ping was it­self formed to buy Fletcher Ship­ping, which had pre­vi­ously gone into ad­min­is­tra­tion as a re­sult of the oil and gas down­turn.

Fletcher Group now em­ploys more than 300 peo­ple, both off­shore and on­shore, in­clud­ing 15 at a new cor­po­rate of­fice in Dundee.

Mr Fletcher said busi­ness had been dif­fi­cult since the oil price crash.

He added: “It’s been one hell of a jour­ney the last three years – the mar­ket fell off a cliff.

“We sur­vived that down­turn and are now in a very strong po­si­tion to take ad­van­tage of a ris­ing mar­ket. We have emerged as a more re­silient com­pany.”

The group traces its roots back to 2000, when Fletcher Ship­ping ac­quired its first plat­form sup­ply ves­sel.

 ??  ?? BUOY­ANT MOOD: Keith Fletcher says the ad­di­tion of two new ships to his fleet is in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a “ris­ing mar­ket”
BUOY­ANT MOOD: Keith Fletcher says the ad­di­tion of two new ships to his fleet is in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a “ris­ing mar­ket”

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