A curve rather than a sharp turn

A curve rather than a sharp turn: we’re honoured to have Mr Erwin Bamps, CEO of a tremendous yacht and boat building company Gulf Craft with us again to talk about what 2017 might bring to the exclusive and luxurious world of yachting.

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How is 2017 shaping up to be for the global yacht industry so far?

We’re optimistic that 2017 is going to be a positive year for our industry. As a company, we have already had a strong start to the year, having announced our partnership with renowned Germany-based luxury yacht dealer, Drettmann International, at boot Dusseldorf. We are now gearing up for the Dubai International Boat Show, where not only will we be making the regional debut of our flagship Majesty 155, but will also be presenting the largest fleet of yachts and boats that we have ever showcased, so thankfully things are looking well.

Our real focus this year is going to be cementing our global footprint and further building on our aftersales offering. Globally, we see the superyacht industry poised for stable growth, bolstered by an increasing UHNWI population. According to the latest statistics from the Superyacht Builders Association, the number of Mena region UHNWIs – households with a minimum of $250 million in bankable assets – increased by 3% on the previous year. This represented 6.5% of the total number of UHNWIs worldwide, with the biggest growth in 2015 seen in the Asia Pacific, where the number of UHNWIs grew by 15%. Overall, North America (38%) had the most UHNWIs followed by Western Europe (23%).

Luxury spending can only be done in a climate of consumer confidence, and while we cannot influence external factors, we can enhance the lens through which the market views our products.

Erwin Bamps, CEO of Gulf Craft

Many brands have told our magazine that 2017 is going to be a turning point for the luxury sector, do you believe so too?

It will be more a curve rather than a sharp turn. We’re continuing to see a rise in luxury spending, however at a slower pace than once before. According to the latest figures from Bain & Company, the overall luxury industry posted steady growth of 4%, to an estimated €1.08 trillion in retail sales value in 2016. From a market perspective, last year was characterised by great volatility – Brexit, the US presidential election, and geopolitical instability have led to market uncertainty.

However, in 2017, we are hoping for a degree of stabilisation. Luxury spending can only be done in a climate of consumer confidence, and while we cannot influence external factors, we can enhance the lens through which the market views our products.

At Gulf Craft, what are you most focused on at the moment?

Where before we were witnessing a slight polarisation in the market – people were either buying smaller boats or larger yachts –  we are now seeing a slight recovery in the 50ft-100ft segment. This is partially driven by up and coming waterfront developments in the region, but can also be attributed to a globally renewed interest in boating from the younger generation boaters, with demand spread across our line of luxury Majesty Yachts, our long-range Nomad Yachts, as well as our Silvercraft fishing boats and family cruisers, and Oryx sport yachts and cruisers.

And as we transform from a yacht and boat builder into a megayacht builder, we are continuously reviewing and improving upon how we operate.

You recently did a piece with us about investing in a superyacht. Talking about your sector, how, in your opinion, are the experiences of such clients going to change in the near future?

One of the key trends we are seeing is that the charter market is on the rise, driven by a growing worldwide demand for luxury cruising. People are chartering yachts to explore new destinations, in Southeast Asia, for example, and are looking beyond traditional cruising locations like the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

The total business volume of charters is increasing, and that is being reflected in how superyachts are designed. Prospective corporate owners are looking for core attributes that would enable their guests to confidently and comfortably cruise to the furthest corners of the globe – so qualities like fuel efficiency, intelligent space utilisation, reliability and durability are becoming of increased importance. The overall focus is shifting from form to function as the ownership model evolves and the market becomes more experience and adventure-oriented. As a builder, this is a fascinating development, because it means more people want to spend time on the water, and we now have an even greater opportunity to make that dream come true.

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