After one of the worst crises in the history of tourism and travel, a share of the market has prospered since businesses have boomed on a growth of orders.
The demand for superyachts has rarely been stronger with wealthy tourists enjoying holiday paradises at sea to escape the crowds and the threat of Covid-19.
For those who can afford it, there is everything from water sports to yoga and fitness sessions on board, as well as the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family in an isolated bubble.
“Since we came out of the first lockdown [last summer], the market experienced absolute growth at much higher levels before entering foreclosure, ”said Antony Sheriff, general manager of Plymouth-based Princess Yachts.
The success story is repeated by yacht manufacturers across Europe. Ferretti, a Forli-based shipowner in northern Italy, broke a record 56 yachts in the first quarter and said the “fantastic acceleration” in the order defied forecasts.
Elsewhere, a record 208 superyachts were bought on the brokerage market for £ 1 billion this year on May 17, up from 131 a year earlier, according to luxury life publisher Boat International.
Yacht owners also say the pandemic has stimulated the rich to reevaluate how they spend their time and make the leap to acquire their first boat or increase with rising asset prices that add to their wealth.
“With the coronavirus, people have realized‘ your life can change right away. ’Their perception of life has changed and they wanted to seize the moment,” said Marco Valle, general manager of Benetti Yachts in Viareggio in Tuscany. “It’s not a secret bag that has gone dramatically. We were ready with the right products. ”
Even the cancellation of numerous boat shows in fascinating places like Monaco have failed to dampen demand as the boom in online shopping has offset the loss of trade fair sales, which usually attract consumers. buyers.
“In a year without boat shows, we had one of the best order bookings ever,” said Rose Damen, general manager of Damen Yachting, a Dutch manufacturer whose order book has grown by about 800 million euros in the last 12 months.
However, it hasn’t been all in sailing. The demands of social distancing have made it impossible to recover the months of lost production when the shipyards closed last spring, while the costs of raw materials, which cannot easily be passed on to buyers, have been on the rise.
It also follows a difficult decade highlighted by a series of failures in a consolidation industry with 20 shipyards producing 65 percent of the superyachts delivered last year, up from a third in 2010, according to the Superyacht Group.
Recent bankruptcies include Nobiskrug in northern Germany, owned by Franco-Lebanese industrialist Iskandar Safa Privinvest, which fell into administration last month (April), and the bankruptcy of Italy’s Perini Navi in February and Norwegian Kleven last July.
In addition, producers have to deal with some of the toughest customers in the world, since the rich make fierce negotiations, only on a handful of megaprojects where the balance sheet mixes in a deal can hit profits hard.
“People expect it to be a very profitable business because your customers are billionaires, but in reality it’s not a big-margin business and it can be a high risk,” Damen said.
Now, the task for the builders of a 5,700-person superyacht fleet – defined as boats longer than 30m – is to keep customers in the post-pandemic market.
Although the group of 520,000 individuals with a net worth in excess of $ 30m, as calculated by Frank Knight’s Wealth Report, is expected to grow, many wealthy clients may decide to spend their money on other things once the crisis is over.
Industry leaders also say they have a battle to overcome what they consider an unfair stigma that superyachts are playing the rich, widening inequality and contributing disproportionately to climate change.
A British businessman, seeing the pandemic with his family on his yacht in the Bahamas while taking Zoom calls to work, has hinted at social pressure.
“The quality of life and the quality of the time is beautiful.” But his e-mail signature reads London to avoid disgrace from jealous colleagues or clients. “The green-eyed monster is alive and well,” he added.
Buyers are not typically the stereotypical oligarchs of cigars or party animals illustrated in the famous television show. Under Deck, sia.
“The owner of the archetypal yacht – tanned with leather, martini in hand – is a little too much.” That’s it, ”said Brendan O’Shannassy aboard the more than 100-foot boat that was jumping into waters south of Bermuda.
Leaders also add that the jobs the industry creates are sometimes overlooked. These workers or artisans have often honed their skills for long apprenticeships or years of hard work.
“People like to talk about the skills, quality and skill it takes to build a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce. But not for superyachts, ”said Martin Redmayne, president of the Superyacht Group.
However, Valle di Benetti is still waiting for a dip in order and a battle to win and retain customers once the crisis is over.
“Our job as a manufacturer is to convince them.”[customers]. . . that yachting becomes something not only new, but a passion to repeat, keep in this life and transfer in family to sons and daughters ”.