STATE-owned shipyard Ferguson Marine has reached a recovery “milestone” with a four-year let on industrial premises, bosses say.

The Port Glasgow company has leased a 77,000 sq ft space in nearby Greenock which will be used to “consolidate inventory” held in warehouses near Glasgow Airport and become its main equipment delivery point.

The announcement comes ahead of tomorrow’s evidence session by Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on the collapse of firm under previous owner Jim McColl.

It won a £97 million contract to build two new CalMac ferries in 2015.

However, the cost of the build spiralled to an estimated £230m amidst delays and disputes that pushed the delivery date of the vessels – set to serve Scotland’s islands – back by four years.

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The company collapsed into administration and was rescued by the Scottish Government last year.

McColl has blamed ministers and national ferry agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) for the yard’s slip into administration.

However, it says “insufficient manpower” and a premature start on building the vessels before their design was finalised is to blame.

In written evidence to a Holyrood enquiry, it said the decision to deviate from “normal shipbuilding practice” had “caused Ferguson to run out of money and progress upon the vessels to reach a standstill”.

Yesterday bosses at the Inverclyde yard made no reference to the row as they announced the lease deal.

The National:

Tim Hair, turnaround director at Ferguson Marine, said: “This is an important milestone for Ferguson and is the first physical change in the recovery of the business. Inside the yard, improvements to the way the business operates are underway and I look forward to moving from reworking the ferries to doing new work, as planned, in the summer.

“Ferguson remains committed to the area and we are glad to have the opportunity to bring our stock close to the shipyard and back into Inverclyde.”

The letting is one of the biggest industrial site deals in Scotland this year and was facilitated by Avison Young, who acted on behalf of Ferguson Marine and joint-agents Colliers, Bowman Rebecchi and Breck Sutherland, who acted on behalf of the landlord, Dalglen Investments.

That firm is owned by Sandy and James Easdale, who also run Greenock-based bus operator McGills. They commented: “This is a huge boost for the local economy.

“We believe this is an opportunity to further support the growth of the yard and ensure further jobs both directly and indirectly via Ferguson’s supply chain.”