Sunseeker’s John Braithwaite is to retire from the UK boatbuilder after 53 years with the company. His retirement has been timed to coincide with his 70th birthday celebrations in May, marking the end of a significant era for both the brand and the industry alike.

Braithwaite started his career in 1964 at Friars Cliff Marine, which became Poole Powerboats in 1969 when it moved into the town of Poole and subsequently Sunseeker International in 1985.

Along with his brother, Robert Braithwaite, John dedicated much of his life to the brand and guided the in-house design team over the last five decades. He was instrumental in the development of several models, including the iconic Superhawk, the Predator 108, and more recently Sunseeker’s fastest-selling model, the Manhattan 52.

“As the company’s longest serving executive, John has also been a valuable source of inspiration and guidance for the current Sunseeker executive team,” says the company in a statement.

Sunseeker CEO Phil Popham described Braithwaite as an industry icon. “What he has achieved is truly momentous. John has always remained true to building the very best in pleasure craft, utilising the latest technologies and delivering every customer’s dream.

"John has been involved in designing some of our most renowned boats and on behalf of the whole Sunseeker family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for the huge contribution he has made to the brand and the industry.”

Sunseeker employs around 2,500 people at its base in Dorset on Britain's south coast, producing around 150 boats from 50ft-131ft each year.