Following speculation over the last couple of days of changes afoot at Sunseeker International, the UK boatbuilder has issued a statement announcing the establishment of a new operating board, and that Robert Braithwaite is to reduce his involvement in the day-to-day running of the business as managing director to focus on customer relations and steering the Sunseeker brand. Robert Braithwaite stepped down from the board of Sunseeker International Ltd at the end of December, though he remains a majority shareholder.

The statement from Sunseeker and Robert Braithwaite reads: “In recent weeks we have made some changes which I believe put us in good shape not only to ride out any challenges the economy may throw our way in the immediate future but also for position ahead of the field for continued investment and growth.

“Stewart McIntyre has joined the company as our first chief operating officer. Stewart has a long track record in improving operations in entrepreneurial companies such as ours, and in a short period has made a big impact on the way we manage our business. On the sales front Sean Robertson, our long standing sales manager, has been promoted and will take on the newly created role of sales director for Sunseeker International.”

John Braithwaite will continue in his role as chief of design and development and was returned to the board as a director on the same day that his brother’s appointment was terminated.

“After 50 years I believe the time has also come for me to change my role. Over time I will be reducing my involvement in the day-to-day running of the business as managing director and focusing more on our valued customer relationships and on steering the future of the Sunseeker brand. This will pave the way for orderly succession planning in the longer-term. For the immediate future, I will of course continue to be involved in day-to-day matters at Poole.”

The statement also notes that John Darlington, head of company restructuring at KPMG, has been appointed as the new chairman of the board, and that a number of non-executive appointments are also planned in the coming months.

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of Friars Cliff Marine Ltd, the company from which Sunseeker International was developed. Robert Braithwaite has been involved with the business since 1959.

Sunseeker’s turnover is expected to exceed