Sitting down with Katia Damborsky during the Genoa Boat Show, Ferretti Group CCO and Wally managing director Stefano de Vivo talks about what’s next for Wally Yachts, the youngest brand in Ferretti Group’s seven-shipyard portfolio.
Italian yachting giant Ferretti Group added Wally Yachts into the fold in early 2019 and since then, the brand has continued to stand for avante-garde designs that buck trends and divide opinions. New Wally models under Ferretti Group include the wallywind, the wallywhy and the brand new wallyrocket, with each model filling gaps in the market for bluewater cruising, fast sailing and high volume packed into a smaller footprint. But, the brand still has ambitious plans — and Ferretti Groups's six other brands won't get left behind in the surge, either, says Stefano de Vivo.
All of the Ferretti Group brands are very strong in their own identities. How do you maintain that strength and individuality?
The brand is the most important thing you can have. If [all the products from different brands] start looking the same, that’s when things go wrong. When I rejoined [Ferretti Group] again in 2014, one of the things we did was to restructure the way we were handling the brands, both from a sales point of view, but also from a marketing and product development perspective. So the brands can share the same technical departments because it makes sense to leverage that experience and knowledge, but I still want different project engineers, different designers and different brand managers, so that the DNA of the brand remains strong and clean.
What about Custom Line and Ferretti Yachts? Do those brands cross over?
I wouldn't say they're similar. I just think that one is a natural extension of the other. With Ferretti Yachts, you can buy a serial boat and you can customise some elements, but it’s smaller so there’s less scope [to make it bespoke]. But when you decide to upgrade to a larger size, and you really want to customise, then you have Custom Line.
Which brand is the priority for next year?
I wish I could prioritise one. But no, we're focusing on all of them. We’re going to bring over 20 new products to market in the coming years. We did 23 in the previous three years. We’ve already launched two completely new ranges, which are the InFYnito and the GTX, and those are going to expand. Then not next year, but the following year, Riva is going to launch a completely new product.
Tell me about the new Riva line…
It’s going to be semi-displacement and over 30 metres. So that means 40, maybe 50 metres.
That doesn’t tell me much…
It’s called Caravelle. The layout is something that you’ve never seen before. The look is very different from before, so it's going to be a little bit retro.
Like the original Caravelle?
No, not like the original, but let’s say that Mauro Micheli of Officina Italiana Design was inspired by that mythical design.
You mentioned you wanted to focus more on larger yacht production?
In the past, the average size of Ferretti Group boats was about 70 feet [21.3 metres]. Today, without losing our entry-levels, we've gone up to nearly 90 feet [27.4 metres]. Basically, the most profitable segments are between 80 and 165 feet [24.3 and 50.2 metres] and built in composite. So we want to keep on focusing on that, because our client base is huge and they're asking for this.
Tell me more about Wally…
The focus will be largely on Wally, it still has to grow to get to the level where we want to go. We had a five-year plan but Covid [slowed us down]. The great thing about Wally is that you can [take the brand in a lot of directions] because it’s so young. But as I said, we will not leave the other brands behind.
What else have you got up your sleeve?
We’re working on a 43-foot [13-metre] foiler potentially under the Wally brand. We’re designing it in such a way that our clients will actually use it. It’s like the [electric prototype boat, the] el-Iseo; we made that boat high-quality and luxurious on purpose because our clients expect that.
What about multihulls?
I think multihulls are getting more and more popular. The problem with multihulls is they’re less attractive [than traditional monohulls] and if you make them narrow [to make them more attractive] you might as well buy a high-volume boat like the wallywhy150. If you start making them too wide, then you can’t berth it. But, I think that for sure the foiling linked to the multihull could be a really exciting thing to explore in the future
Would you build a multihull under the Wally brand?
That, I couldn’t say. But for sure Wally is the [brand] that is more [inclined to do] something like a multihull or foiling yacht, simply because you expect Wally to bring out something crazy. And if you don't hit a bull's eye on the first go, it doesn't really matter because the point is that you're innovating with it. We have a dormant brand that has already built multihulls, which is Mochi Craft. We have a lot of different options. And depending on the product that we find, or the size we're going to hit, we have multiple possibilities.
What do you personally like about the Wally brand?
You might not be in love with Wally, but you can’t not respect the brand. When [Luca Bassani] started launching his first sailing yachts, there was no one else that was doing designs like this, using carbon fibre, and it just made everything else look really old. When Wally moved into power yachts, there were no straight bows, no open sterns, nothing like that. That’s why all the Wallys on the market, they may be from 2007, but they still look like brand-new yachts. There are practically no builders that don’t try and make a Wally lookalike or a copy.
CRN celebrates a big milestone this year - happy birthday. Does CRN have any plans to get more involved with refits?
We do a little bit but the shipyard is full with new builds, so we don't really have the space for doing a full project. But around one per cent of our yearly turnover is in refits.
Everyone who works at Ferretti Group is very passionate about the brands…
It’s because we’re so strong as a company. People who don’t work in the industry or don’t have a boat… they will still be familiar with Pershing, a Wally or a Riva. So when you start working at Ferretti Group, it’s very easy to believe in their strength in the market.
How has the profile of your clients changed over the last few years?
It’s funny hearing people saying the average age of clients is younger. It’s true that we see more 30-year-olds buying their first boats in a larger size segment, but the average age isn’t coming down, because our life expectancies are getting longer.