A manufacturer of workboats is reporting a rapidly expanding order book and customer base after becoming a stand-alone business.

Hampshire-based Meercat, which employs 16 people at Hythe Marine Park, Southampton, now has enough work to last beyond the end of next year.

A management buyout in November secured the future of the firm as a restructured, wholly independent, operation.

This followed the financial difficulties and subsequent collapse into administration of the firm’s former parent company.

Managing director Jason Coltman said: “We have been through a difficult and challenging period, but I can say without doubt that we are swiftly moving ahead and looking forward to 2018 with renewed optimism.

Our new backer, a private investor, has shown great confidence in helping us consolidate our position; our site landlord, creditors and customers have shown complete understanding of our business situation and staff have been magnificently loyal and patient.

Meercat is now in a position to flourish. We are committed to growing the firm globally, we have an excellent track record and our hard work is paying off in the shape of new orders.

Our customer base is beginning to snowball and we continue to work flat out to complete orders. We are also actively pursuing prospects for new work both locally and further afield as we seek to expand further.

Our aim is to continue to develop the great Meercat brand and product range to compete globally with the best vessels in the workboat business”

Confirmed orders include a £500,000 oil spill response vessel for Europe, a 22-metre landing craft for a Scottish fish farm and an 18-metre utility vessel for the Shetland Islands.

Recent builds have included the 15-metre, heavy equipment carrying Spartina for the Southampton’s Harbour Master of Associated British Ports. It can be seen operating in Southampton Water.

Meercat relocated to its present purpose built 1,600 sq m Hythe site in 2016. Facilities include two 20-tonne gantry cranes, a machine shop, an electrical workshop, a hydraulic workshop, aluminium welding bays and steel fabrication bays.