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Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
William Telford

Ex-boss of Princess Yachts launches boat design and refit firm in Plymouth

The former boss of luxury boat-maker Princess Yachts has launched a new motor yacht design and refit specialist company in Plymouth.

Chris Gates, who stepped down as managing director of Plymouth’s Princess Yachts in 2019 after 11 years in charge and 30 at the firm, now runs Setag Yachts.

The company, incorporated in December 2020, has just relocated from Marsh Mills to MDL Marinas’ Queen Anne’s Battery (QAB) marina in Plymouth.

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With a focus on Fairline, Sunseeker and Princess Yachts, the design led company has taken a modern business unit below QAB’s marina office to house its sales office as well as its highly-skilled and experienced engineering and design teams.

Setag Yachts will also carry out its bespoke luxury refitting service onsite, occupying significant hardstanding and workshop space in the marina’s Atlantic and Tamar Buildings.

Since its launch in April 2021, Seatag Yachts has secured 20 design and refit projects, with yachts ranging from 33ft to 88ft, and budgets of between £10,000 and £1,000,000.

The relocation to MDL’s QAB marina is a strategic move to ensure the business continues to go from strength to strength, benefitting from the increased proximity to its supply chain.

“Our professional team’s collective skills and experience come from many years building luxury motor yachts in Plymouth,” said Mr Gates, Setag chief executive. “We specifically looked at where we would be best located in Plymouth, with regards to our suppliers and other marine business services.

“MDL’s Queen Anne’s Battery was ideal, having established a hub of marine businesses. But it’s more than just the location. MDL’s sustainability initiatives were also integral to our decision.

“We, too, are committed to driving positive change for the environment. We do this by building responsible and sustainable considerations into every stage of our refits. The simple act of refitting an existing yacht is the ultimate in upcycling.”

Tim Mayer, sales and marketing director at MDL, said: “We’re truly delighted to welcome Setag Yachts as a tenant at our Queen Anne’s Battery marina. As a business, its core values with regards to the environment align so well with our own.

“Setag will also be exhibiting at our Green Tech Boat Show in June. It will be showcasing how it raises the concept of ‘refit’ to a new level to encourage more people to experience the boating lifestyle on a pre-owned yacht, helping to make boating more sustainable.”

Mr Gates, now aged 60, started his working life as an engineering apprentice in 1981 learning on day-release and at night-school at what was then the College of Further Education, now named City College Plymouth.

That was while he was working at the large US engineering company Gleason Cutting Tools. He completed a HNC in mechanical and production engineering at the college in 1981 and worked for the toolmaker, which closed its Plymouth operation in 2010 with the loss of 80 jobs, until 1989.

He then joined Princess Yachts as a production controller, and went on to become manufacturing director in 1991 and ultimately managing director. He was among inspirational and high-achieving further education alumni handed prestigious Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Gold Awards in 2018, at the House of Commons, alongside Jamie Oliver, Colin Firth, Jimmy Choo, Alan Titchmarsh, Deborah Meaden, Baroness Warsi – and Plymouth’s own Charleine Wain.

Located at the entrance to Plymouth Sound with access from the A38, QAB has 235 berths for boats up to 18m. There is a wide range of marine trades on site including marine electronics, riggers, GRP repairs and engineers. With a 40-ton Wise hoist, allowing boats to be launched seven days a week, and storage ashore, the marina offers boat repair and maintenance facilities for businesses and berth holders.

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