As Sunseeker prepares to debut two world premieres at boot Düsseldorf 2023, CEO Andrea Frabetti shares his vision for the year ahead...
How was 2022 for you?
We’ve had a tremendous year and the market is still very good, so we predict another great year. We’ve suffered the same problems as the wider industry, given the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing impact of the pandemic, but we're getting back on track now.
What’s the strategy for 2023?
We’re not going to dramatically increase the volume of production in the next few years for many reasons. One is that we don't want to saturate our boats in the market and we always want to have one customer more than the available boats. We want to keep the brand exclusive. If you foresee the possibility to double production and you take it, you can have great results. But on the other hand, it could be dangerous for the market. We decided to grow but not vertically. We are putting more lines inside of our existing series, but not building yachts much in excess of 40 metres or larger at this time. This is our range and we are not changing it.
How does vertical integration play into your strategy?
Honestly, Sunseeker is probably the most vertical in the industry. We have more than 2,000 employees because we are producing so much under one roof. Other companies have fewer employees because they are not vertical — they don't build furniture, joinery, upholstery, electrical systems or switchboards — they outsource.
We build everything in-house, and that gives us the advantage of being able to track the quality of everything on our boats. The things we outsource are technical components like engines and stabilisers. But if you ask this question to many of our competitors, the value of internal production is between zero to 30 per cent. Most of those companies are assembling, but they are not building.
Are all of the parts manufactured in the UK?
I think overall, we can say that 60 per cent of the value of the boat — or maybe more — is built at our facilities in Poole and Dorset.
Why wouldn’t you build yachts larger than 40 metres?
I think we could easily build a yacht of 70 metres and up, no problem at all. But I think that for many reasons, including social and environmental, it might not be viable at this time. I think in the future, yachts will be under more environmental restrictions, and they may be limited as to where they can go or how they can be built.
What makes Sunseeker stand out in the market?
If we can’t find the perfect balance between functionality, and style, we don’t build it. Brand identity and brand value are everything. Given its size and value, there's no way you would go and commit to a boat like our new 29.8 metre 100 Yacht from an unknown brand. Those customers are prepared to put that deposit down because they trust the brand. Building the best quality boats is one of the most important elements of our heritage. The best quality possible means that the customer experience is trouble-free. But also, when they sell back to the market, they get a good price. This is very important for the client because they know that they can change boats with little depreciation.
You mentioned trouble with the supply chain — can you expand on that?
In general, we’ve had some problems because of the knock-on effects of the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine. We’ve seen a shortage of raw materials and labour, and all the industry has the same problem because often we share the same suppliers. No boats can run without the parts supplied by manufacturers, which faced severe disruption across 2021 and 2022. But, I’m happy we’re now returning to a semblance of normality.
Are you focusing on any new territories?
We’ve opened a new dealership in Dubai to serve the entire Gulf region, but we’ve always been strong in the Middle East. Potentially we’re looking at something exciting in Southeast Asia. I think the demand is growing there and it can sometimes be overlooked. We have a very strong distributor in Europe, a fantastic dealership in Central America and, in the US, OneWater Yacht Group are on track to become one of the industry’s biggest players. We are of course looking to increase our market share in other countries, and we will see a similar boom as we are experiencing in America. I’m very excited about what the next five years will deliver.
Are most of your clients long-time Sunseeker loyalists, or are some of them new to market?
Most of them will be repeat customers facing upgrades who have had multiple Sunseekers previously. We find that people are very loyal to Sunseeker and they stay within the brand. Events like our ULTIMATE series, which we held again last year in Mallorca, reinforce the value we place on our ‘Sunseeker Family’ and is something we know our customers appreciate.