It’s time to set sail at Miami’s annual International Boat Show. The star of the sea this year, is the Ferretti Group. Ferretti Group is the world’s leading brand in the design, construction and sale of some of the most luxurious motor yachts. With their unique portfolio, Ferretti Group is one of the most exclusive and prestigious brands worldwide. Le CITY deluxe had the pleasure of speaking to James Henderson, the President of Ferretti Group in America, and discuss the latest boat show trends of the year:
James you presented this new boat at the boat show, what was the feedback?
The feedback has been fantastic. We presented three new boats at the boat show. We presented new Ferretti 650, Ferretti 750, and we also presented a sneak preview of Ferretti 6 open. All of the boats were amazing in terms of feedback and one of the things we’re known for the brand and for innovation of the product so every year we try to bring out new product that is innovative and the new product that is really moving forward our brand and also reflects the DNA of the brand.
What are the new boat trends?
The open boats are the new trend. The Riva as a brand is an extraordinary brand. This year it is 172 years old and we’ve always been known for open boats at Riva, and if you go back to the icon of the 1960s boating, Riva’s boats were it. Riva has always been synonymous with Miami, synonymous with the French riviera, with Monaco and with celebrities and so we also try to develop something along the lines of the open boat concept. The base of the platform that we’re using is Riva 86 Domino which has been a very successful product for us. We’ve built twenty of them to date and 4 or 5 of them are here in Miami. The boat that we’re working on on now is going to be based on that model. It will be incredibly fast with 14 knots, an open hot-tub. It is Ferretti patented and has never been done before. For us it really follows the innovation of the brand.
What were the main focus for the boat show aficionados this year?
What we were trying to do for them in Florida, we try to maintain the inventory of all the popular models that we carry. And we carry an inventory that is very specific to the American market. We have really increased our investment in Americas in the last couple of years significantly. We have a flagship showroom in Ft. Lauderdale which is 45,000 square feet. We have all of our brands on display in Palm Beach which we opened at the end of 2012. We have a brand new store in Miami which we opened. So what we’ve got is a full inventory for the American market and the boat show is a great opportunity for us to showcase that. This particular boat show we have 25 models on display at a retail value of $130 million. We really try to represent one popular model of each brand. So when people come in, we can show them a big range. This is the chance to show people not only the scale of infrastructure in the American market, but also that we have something for everyone. Every boat show we mix in some new models along with the number of our inventory models. Moreover, the American market is an interesting market. It can be quite diverse. A number of our buyers are incredibly successful individuals and some of them are also quite impulsive so they come into boat shows and it’s not uncommon to for them to buy 80 or 90 foot boats in one day. It’s extraordinary.
Are these returning customers or the new ones?
It’s a bit of a mix actually. In the last couple of years we had a 30% growth in the market so we’ve been very successful, but we also have a retention ratio of an estimated 40% which means that we have an awful lot of repeat clients and also the people who buy the product for the first time and then come back. My goal in this is not just to sell one boat to somebody. My goal is to build a relationship with the client. Given that we have such a range of products and a portfolio, we can take people all the way up in the brands. So we started 20 feet with the Riva and we go all the way up to our CRN brand which is now the largest that we build at 80 meters to 240 feet.
It’s interesting what you’ve said. People no longer go the traditional way of taking it step by step and purchase a big boat right away.
It’s interesting in a way that world economy developed so quickly that you have a lot of people that they have reached a point in their lives and their careers where they have been very focused on their business and focused on working very hard, so they have reached a point where they want to reward themselves for their hard work, and spend more time with their family and their friends, and having a yacht is an amazing way to do that because it’s a great opportunity and you have a tremendous amount of privacy. You can spend time in an environment with your friends and family, and you can take the boat out and enjoy it. You can really just relax and get away. And so what we’re finding is that we have a number of clients that have grown up through different boats but we also have clients that would come in and go straight into an 80 foot boat or even larger boat because they want to use that as an opportunity to spend time with friends and family. We also own a factory-direct organization. We’re one of the first to sell factory brands. So in America we’re the manufacturer and also the wholesaler and retailer and we deliver the boats to be services. So the nice thing for a client is when he comes on board, and buys a boat from us, they’re buying it from the factory and we’re responsible for managing that boat and helping them with the after sales process.
Do you do trade-ins?
Absolutely. We prefer to do trade-ins of our own brands. We also have a brokerage business LA Marine (not sure of the proper spelling), the yacht brokerage that also does charting. On the brokerage side, it’s an old brokerage firm that has been around since 1945. What we decided to do this year is to supplement the brokerage business with the charter business. And charter means that we can provide an additional range of services for the clients. Especially if a client wants to charter a boat instead of owning one or if they’d like to get some experience with yachting through chartering a boat. Also, a number of our clients who own a boat, who might have their boat in the U.S or the Caribbean, and they want to have a boat in the Mediterranean for the summer, so we can help them find a boat just for the summer. On the other side of it, we’re also able to assist clients who have boats and want to have them charter out, so in some cases someone using the boat might want to charter it and gain an additional income from the boat. The nice thing about charter is it keeps the crew fresh.
What is the transaction value you’ve done at the boat show?
We’ve don’t really release that. It’s a really great show for us. What happens at the boat show is that it gives you a chance to reach out to new clients and bring new clients in, and it also gives us a chance to bring in clients that we’ve been working with for so long so they could see different products side-by side. Sometimes with boat shows people would come and buy wholesale over the weekend, but mostly it’s just to have people see the models and different brands. We’ve had a good show this year and overall it has been great. The people who came to see this year’s boat show are quality people.
Now to end this interview on a personal note, if you had to pick one boat, which boat would that be?
One of the nice things about my job is that I get to try a little bit of everything. I enjoy the different boats for what they do. i love going out on Riva 44 and 45 in Miami and it’s fantastic. I love the performance and the handling of it. But the boat I tend to introduce everybody to is the 800 Ferretti because it is one of the best representations of what we do.
Interview: Claudia Trimde