YBW caught up with Sunseeker International CEO Phil Popham at the Southampton Boat Show where the luxury yacht brand launched new models, discussed their successful year and revealed their plans for the future
It’s been a great year for Sunseeker International with forecasted growth in revenue of 10%, and an expected 15% more boats sold in 2017 compared to 2016. 90% of capacity has already been sold in 2017, with 50% sold for 2018.
YBW caught up with Sunseeker International CEO Phil Popham at the Southampton Boat Show, where the luxury yacht brand launched their two new models, the Predator 57 MK II, and the 76 Yacht, which received its global launch at the show.
Phil, Sunseeker has had a fantastic 2016 and 2017 is looking even healthier. What are the key factors behind the brand’s success?
The brand is really strong and always has been. We are probably bearing the fruits now of quite a significant product investment. Last year, superyacht 95, 116, 131 (all of which were new to the market), the Predator 57 the year before became our fastest selling product, then going into this year the 52 has done incredibly well, it’s now the fastest selling Sunseeker of all time, the 66, now the 76 – 15 orders before we’d even shown the product. So it’s no doubt, investment in product is part of that. We had some gaps in our dealer network, we weren’t represented or we had poor representation so we fired dealers and we fired dealers in the United States. We focused on that in the last couple of years. We took on two dealers in South America, filled the gaps in Europe, in Montenegro, in Croatia. We changed our dealership in Germany, now we have offices in Italy.
Sunseeker London has just opened an office in Lavagna. You weren’t represented on the Italian market for a while…
The Italian market was decimated in the recession, not only that but the tax police…the conspicuous consumption…it killed luxury cars as well as superyachts and luxury products. We are back there now and we see real possibilities.
Where else have you expanded and which other areas of the business have proved fruitful?
We’ve taken on a new dealer in Lebanon, in Kuwait. Our dealer in Dubai, now he’s taking on new offices in Dubai Marina, and he’s taking on new people, on the basis that you have to invest and change or we will change you, and they’ve really come on board. We have a new dealer in Japan, we are now focusing on Southeast Asia this year. In gaps we have no dealers. We’ve got a new dealer in Singapore. So that’s all happened in the last three years: new products, new representation, getting efficiency into our build, to make sure we can introduce our product at the right price. We are premium price, we always will be, we are a premium brand, but there’s only so much premium, so the 76, the 66, and the 52 have come in at competitive prices compared to the products they are replacing – that’s important. We’ve only done that because we’ve got efficiency in build, we’ve invested in efficiency, material costs coming down because we are planning our business, negotiating long term supply agreements with our suppliers. So all of those factors coming in and I think overall what I’d say is we’ve put a long term plan for the business. Five years business product plan, five years representation plan, that’s funded, that’s approved by our shareholders and all of our stakeholders and we are getting on with delivering that. We’ve built that foundation for growth.
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Do you think Brexit and the weak sterling have made Sunseeker more attractive to foreign buyers?
80% of our boats are bought in foreign currency, most exported, so for 80% of our customers the price has come down, but that said, is it a factor? Probably it is to an extent, but I don’t think as much as the new product development. It’s not an impulse purchase to buy a luxury yacht, it’s a 100% discretionary purchase. You don’t need a yacht, you’ve got to want one, so I think people take a long term view. I think currency volatility for a multinational company is one of the biggest risks of the business. So, did we benefit? Possibly, but it will find its own level. I don’t think the pound will be this weak forever. Whatever level that is you just end up getting back to the norm, so overall I think it helped potentially short term to close some deals but it’s not the reason why we are doing well.
You have 11% of the market share for yacht 165ft and above, and are second in the industry after Beneteau. So how are you going to get to number one?
We’ve invested in capacity, so we will grow in terms of volume. In our five year plan we’ll not only grow as in replace our products, we’ll grow the number of products we have in our portfolio so we will have a wider product range and we’ll have greater capacity, we’ll have wider representation than we’ve got today. We do expect to grow, I expect the market to grow. I think we are gonna grow quicker than the market
What can we expect from Sunseeker in 2018 and years to come?
Sean (Robertson, Sales and Marketing Director) talked about the Predator 50 and Predator 74 launching in 2018. Over the course of the next five years we think the brand can support a wider range of products. We do intend to get bigger than we are today, and we do intend to revisit our origins which is about high performance and smaller boats.
YBW took a tour of the brand new Sunseeker 76. Take a look at the video above and discover the latest member of the brand’s family in all its beauty.