The 19th Monaco Yacht Show opened almost exactly 53 weeks after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15th 2008, precipitating a global financial crisis and plunging the superyacht brokerage market into a steep decline. Offers made at last year's show evaporated into thin air and, finally, the bubble in prices of second-hand yachts burst.
Now that last week's show is behind us, we asked a selection of brokers, large and small, to give us their opinions of current market conditions and their feelings for the future.
First off, Rob Moran of Moran Yacht & Ship says, "An interesting show - busy, with a lot of qualified clients but everybody is looking for the elusive 'great deal'. There were very few American clients and I expected more from the Middle East because Ramadan didn't clash with the show this year. There were a few, but not many. We did receive several offers on our yachts but none was accepted. And the banks are still not in the game."
Alev Karagulle comments: "The Burgess opinion is that it was a strong show and well presented with a high volume of owners present. There was evidence of a few serious buyers and also a good number of financially qualified potential buyers researching the market. Whether any significant deals will be sealed as a result of the show is the acid test that is yet to come, but activity levels are encouraging."
Alev's comments are echoed by Hein Velema, CEO of Fraser Yachts, saying, "There was a very positive atmosphere at the show this year. Our brokers had a good number of highly qualified clients flying in from all over the world with both the means and intention to purchase. Yachts do not get sold in 24 hours so it will be a few weeks before we can really look back and review the show. However the initial feedback has been very good and we are certainly optimistic that the strong leads will develop into some significant sales through Quarter Four 2009."
Toby Walker, Sales Director at Camper & Nicholsons International says simply, "The show was busier than one might have feared and very early signs are that genuine buyers are showing interest and making offers. A cautiously optimistic feeling." While Chris Cecil-Wright, Sales Director of Edmiston is even more succinct: "We experienced a great deal of interest in quality yachts priced correctly."
Over at Oceanstyle, Manging Director Richard Lambert notes that, " The level of serious enquiries from new as well as existing clients was extremely encouraging with a number of offers received for the yachts on display. The interest level in the yachting market is substantially higher than at any point in the last 12 months, with clients showing strong intentions to purchase and take advantage of the recent adjustment in pricing."
And here's the view from Toby Maclaurin of Ocean Independence: "There was certainly an excellent display of yachts, as good as any year, the number of visits to our five yachts on display was in line with previous years, so too were the number of potential buyers at the show, but as we know from last year, our industry's fortunes can change very quickly indeed - how we feel in the New Year is of more importance than how we feel today."
Bertrand Vogele of Yachting Partners International also says: "Ask us again in six months time and we'll tell you whether Monaco was useful or not. Of course it was a positive show - the brokers at YPI showed some very excited and genuinely interested buyers and clients around some amazing yachts. But as we all know, there's often some way to go between the showing and the signing."
We'll leave the last word to Claude Niek of CSO Yachts, "The MYS 2009 edition was really interesting with a couple of seriously motivated buyers ready to make offers. The MYBA Selection was also a great opportunity to have some very nice second-hand yachts presented for the first time. Maybe the crisis is behind us?"