Sadly, Harland & Wolff have filed for insolvency after their Norwegian parent company Dolphin Drilling (who recently filed for bankruptcy) had failed to find a buyer and the Government announced that the birthplace of the Titanic would not be nationalised.
With such an icon about to disappear from British shipbuilding, Plimsoll has decided to take a look at the business case for assisting in the historic company’s preservation.
The company that once employed 30,000 in its heyday is a monument to Belfast’s industrious past. Dominating the Northern Irish skyline, the Harland and Wolff shipyard is now as much a part of its heritage as its economy.
With 50% of the Boatbuilding industry being rated as ‘strong’ or ‘good’ in Plimsoll’s analysis, it’s difficult to sell the idea that the company should be supported out of circumstantial misfortune. Almost half of the companies in the industry have managed to increase their value too, so it does make the case for any government intervention appear quite weak. With so much potential in the industry it could suggest that the company’s management wasn’t up to scratch.
Looking at the prospect of a buyout, Plimsoll rated the company as ‘worth considering’ for potential acquirers. However, looking at the greater industry, there were another 247 companies that were similarly rated, and even a further 70 that were rated as ‘highly attractive’. This suggests that any movement on acquiring the business may have had romantic motivations, rather than practical grounding.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no case for a buyout or for government intervention. Due to the history and heritage surrounding the business, Belfast appears to be due to lose a piece of its heritage. Could this be worth factoring into the equation, and if so, how much is heritage worth?