Marine engineering company Gael Force, which was founded in Stornoway in the 1980s, is continuing its expansion with the acquisition of Corpach Boatbuilding Company.

The ‘strategically significant move’ will allow the company to fulfil its objective of building a new range of steel feed barges for aquaculture customers.

Gael Force was founded in 1983 by Stewart Graham as a start-up business in Stornoway to design and manufacture a ‘better’ fishing creel, supplied direct to the boat owner.

By 2000 the business was employing 70 people across three sites and now does business across six locations in the UK with over 200 staff.

Gael Force still has a creel-making site on Island Road in Stornoway, the leading producer and supplier to the UK market.

This latest development will be viewed as a major opportunity for Scottish producers of farmed salmon to find a home-built substitute to imported steel feed barges.

Corpach’s boat building operation, which has 22 employees, adds to Gael Force’s well-established concrete barge building facility in Inverness.

The merger could strengthen the West of Scotland’s boat building industry and see the introduction of steel feed barge building on the West coast.

Earlier this year Gael Force Group acquired a majority stake in Fusion Marine, the fish farm pen manufacturer.