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What makes Pearl Yachts a boutique builder?

5 January 2022• Written by Laura Nicholls for Pearl Yachts

Pearl Yachts was conceived when an ex-superyacht captain saw a gap in the market and convinced an investor to fund his idea. The mission was successful, and the once-small ambition to build yachts with well-optimised volumes evolved into a fast-growing fleet of leading flybridge yachts.

Seemingly, the establishment of the company and the success that followed came far too easily to its founder Iain Smallridge. However, as Smallridge explains, the process spanned at least five years until Pearl Yachts was a fully-fledged enterprise. “In 2003, it was clear that significant investment would be needed to achieve success in a highly competitive market. That's when I approached Tony and Margaret Whittaker. Their investment together with Margaret’s vision helped to produce the range of voluminous yet stylish flybridge yachts for the discerning Mediterranean yacht buyer.”

Today, the Pearl Collection consists of the Pearl 62, 72, 80 and 95 models. The Pearl 62 can house four guest cabins plus a garage or a crew cabin and the new Pearl 72 is the first yacht in her size class to offer four en-suite cabins including two masters. The larger Pearl 80 is known for her performance and full-beam master suite, and the flagship Pearl 95’s most notable features are her vast beach club with fold-down buttresses.

The range is one that has been developed with naval architecture by Bill Dixon and Kelly Hoppen CBE interiors. “No other yacht company works with Kelly Hoppen CBE, so this is why our trademark neutral colours and signature sophisticated textures are so unique,” says Smallridge. This exclusive collaboration also helps cement the brand’s status as a “boutique” shipyard. “Our conscious decision to produce a smaller volume of high-quality yachts means we offer that attention to detail and individuality, which mass producers cannot match.” Pearl currently produce between 10 and 12 yachts each year. “We are only willing to increase this production to around 20 yachts,” he adds.

Iain Smallridge, MD of Pearl Yachts

Having built a reputation around the exclusivity of a Pearl Yacht, the team found that their relationships with clients were heightened. So much so that when it came to introducing the 29.2-metre Pearl 95 to the market, there were already clients ready and waiting. Unveiled as a new concept in 2015 and debuted in Cannes in 2018, the first three semi-custom flagship yachts were sold within two years. The fourth unit is ready to be delivered to her future buyer during March 2022. “The Pearl 95 offers precisely what many customers were, and are, searching for,” explains Smallridge. “She is perfect for owners wanting to spend time in sunnier climes on board a luxuriously designed yacht with plenty of innovative features.”

These features include vast and well-appointed exterior decks with sunpads and an inviting Jacuzzi on the flybridge. The flybridge and raised pilothouse design make the most of the available space and “the full-beam ‘on deck’ master is a delightful cabin that has a real wow factor that owners love.” The beach club is also a large space for guests to relax at water level and use the many water toys that can be stored in the garage. An area forward of the beach club named the ‘foredeck sun lounge’ is an ideal sunbathing spot and, once the tender is launched, a bar area becomes available. The innovative part of the design is the “abundance of windows that give incredible views in every direction” and the ability to adapt the layout to fit either four or five cabins with a choice of four interior design styles.

“The pedigree is immediately clear when you step on board,” says Smallridge confidently, a confidence that has given the Pearl product a unique selling point. “We have gone one step further than our rivals,” he adds. “By providing a comprehensive five-year warranty for every yacht, we can ensure the owner’s investment is protected well into the future. Our resale value and customer support are unparalleled.”

What makes a Pearl yacht is set to only be enhanced over the coming years as the company plans to introduce even more new models to expand the range. “Each model will be better than the last,” comments Smallridge. And, of course, the Pearl Yacht dealer network will upsize from its current locations in America, France, Italy, UK, Spain, Turkey and Kuwait. “At the same time, we will continue to encourage innovation and ensure that what makes us unique is not lost, even as increasing international recognition and client demand pulls us in different directions!”

To find out more about the current range, and what is yet to come from Pearl Yachts, contact the UK-based firm directly by visiting their website here.


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