From the humble origins of a model shop in the West Midlands Norman Fletcher built his first boat to satisfy a boyhood passion for speed and performance. His first boats proved so successful that soon others were asking him to build examples for them.
The time was around the late 1950â€™s, England was recovering from the austere war years and the swinging 60â€™s were just around the corner.
Suddenly it was going to get very busy for Norman.
In the next 10 years Fletcher Boats was going to become a global force in the sportsboat market and be the largest producer outside the USA! I never met the man myself but I know a few who have. â€˜Firm but fairâ€™ seems to be a reasonable appraisal. Possibly the Alan Sugar of his day? Totally absorbed in his product he was fanatical about producing a quality boat at the right price. He invested in technology and he invested in research and design. Every boat show there was a new Fletcher or a new take on an existing model â€“ and there were literally thousands of people queuing up to buy them. Fletcher was a huge success.
Selling out to the Hornby Group in the late 80â€™s saw significant changes in the company. Not just the move from Private to Public hands but when Norman left a lot of the passion and drive left with him. The R&D budget was cut and the company diversified into other areas. Fletcher became a significant moulder for the likes of Avon Inflatables and Sunseeker - they also produced thousands of mudguards for ERF Trucks!
On the surface things looked good as the range was expanded and by early 2000 Fletcher produced boats from 14â€™ â€“ 25â€™.
However, all was not well in the boat yard. Fletcher was suffering a double blow. Europe was still recovering from a recession and there was a massive increase in cheap imports from the States. Some disastrous Group decisions also served to put pressure on an already stretched company.