On the 1st of May 2000, the Ferretti Group took over the Riva boatyard, which could thus go back to flying the Italian flag. Riva celebrated the turn of the millennium with the largest rally of period boats in history: more than one hundred yachts, representing all Riva models, paraded on Lake Iseo on 10 September 2000, led by the Aquarama carrying onboard Carlo Riva and Norberto Ferretti, bonded by friendship and mutual esteem. Today Alberto Galassi, the CEO of the Ferretti Group, answers a few questions of ours about the yachting sector and where it all might be going in the near future.
Mr Galassi, how would you describe your line of work to an outsider?
Ferretti Group is much more than one of the most successful international yacht building companies. We make people’s dreams come true by offering made-in-Italy masterpieces of design and technology. That means our business is definitely more than a daily deal with ship owners living in five continents. We have the global effort to constantly improve the characteristics and performances of our yachts, which means improving design, comfort and performance. A unique navigation experience matches with the history and values of our seven brands, some historical and others legendary: Ferretti Yachts, Pershing, Riva, Custom Line, Itama, Mochi Craft and CRN. Imagine editing seven different versions of the Paddock magazine for seven different audiences: a challenging, yet stimulating task!
How is the yachting sector doing at the moment globally and which markets are getting stronger?
Opposite to what is happening in the famous TV series Game of Thrones, in the nautical industry “Winter is already here”, and so it’s been for a few years now and, even though we can’t really say that we are out of it, we are slowly recovering.
As a confirmation, at the end of 2016 the number of yachts produced by Ferretti Group has increased by 25% compared to the previous year, reaching 148 units. Our production value was equal to €562.5 million, an increase of +36% compared to 2015.
During these challenging years the scenario has inevitably changed. As an example, in 2015 the Italian market took up only 3% of our global turnover – it was around 35% before the global economic crisis, so it was natural for us to look at other markets. Nowadays Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region is recording the highest volume of sales, where 50% of our global orders come from. This data is an additional confirmation that, by tradition, EMEA is still the most attracting area for the yachting industry.
Both Americas and Asia Pacific regions are recording a seamless growth year after year too. Ferretti Yachts is by far the first brand in the leisure boating market segment in China, while Riva, that this year celebrates its 175th anniversary, is a legendary Italian icon in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Last but not least, Pershing is our most successful brand in the United States, while Custom Line has loyal owners in Mexico and in the South America markets.
Opposite to what is happening in the famous TV series Game of Thrones, in the nautical industry ‘Winter is already here’
So what has changed in the yachting industry during the last few years? Maybe in terms of clients, online activity, social media?
When I started at the Ferretti Group, I didn’t believe in digital growth so much. I did not believe that this business could benefit much from social media, and I did not think that the clients of the superyacht industry were so much interested in these new ways of communication. Let me just tell you Ferretti Group has now more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.
On the occasion of the latest Ferretti Group Private Preview, when we offered our clients an incredible private concert by Duran Duran, Simon Le Bon himself reposted our Instagram contents, reaching an incredible social engagement. Moreover, we were able to sell some boats starting a relationship with a customer on social media.
Our company needs to constantly evolve, combining tradition with innovation. And this is the same philosophy that we’re going to transfer in our yachts chosen by an increasingly more demanding clientele in terms of trends, style and technology.
And is it hard to introduce innovation and creativity in your work?
Innovation and creativity are key factors in our work. We’re always looking for cutting-edge solutions both in technology and design. These include systems that make the navigation more comfortable, as for instance the gyroscopic anti-roll stabilisers, now installed on many of our yachts, even on smaller ones.
I would like to mention our latest Ferretti Group patents like the Convertible Top and the Dual Mode Transom systems: the first one allowed us to create a new kind of yacht, the Riva convertible, now consisting of two models: 88’ Florida and 76’ Bahamas. In the Custom Line superyachts, the DMT system offered the comfort of a huge beach club at stern, a feature usually found on ships above 50 metres.
Every year we introduce several innovative solutions, new projects and design concepts, as our competitors know very well, since they often take inspiration from us. Our yachts are conceived as “floating suites” too: this is why we dedicate so much resources and commitment to the interiors, working with internationally famous design firms.
We were even able to sell some boats via a relationship started with a customer on social media.
Tell us about the partnership with Ferrari – how did it start? Why Ferrari?
The encounter between Riva and Ferrari is a match of soulmates, starting from two great Italian geniuses, Carlo Riva and Enzo Ferrari. Thanks to their foresight and their will to make their dreams come true, they created two of the most famous Italian brands worldwide. I don’t sound haughty when I say that “a Riva is a Ferrari of seas”, as they both represent the Italian epitome of excellence, so the partnership between these two myths came as natural and spontaneous.
The first encounter happened in the early 1990s, when the historical Riva Ferrari 32 was produced in a Limited Edition consisting of 40 units. But we wanted to go beyond this and write with Ferrari a new chapter in the nautical and automotive industries. This is why since 2016 the Riva logo is on the helmets of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers: this is a symbol that will remain in the history and that makes us proud every time we see it.
Last but not least, we’re proud to have Mr Piero Ferrari, son of Enzo Ferrari, chairing the Ferretti Group Product Strategic Committee since 2013. His experience helped the company to become again a leader in the yachting sector. Moreover, in April 2016, Mr Ferrari decided to became shareholder of the Group, with a 13.2% percentage of the total shares adding his experience, taste and authoritativeness to the leadership team of the Company.
How could the business relationships between Formula 1 and companies like yours be improved?
Working in the luxury goods business requires a seamless research of perfection. For this reason, the connection between Ferrari and Riva developed naturally. With such a strong relationship between each other, it felt appropriate to explore the possibility to develop something strong together.
The Formula 1 environment is full of passion and innovation and it perfectly combines with the yachting world. We’re proudly increasing our presence in the Formula 1 circuits, especially in those like Abu Dhabi, Monaco and Singapore, which are basically on water. It’s the best possible promotional spot for our yachts, the right product in a perfect environment.
How does Formula 1 as an industry look to you today, business-wise?
Both Formula 1 and the yachting sector are ever-evolving industries. I think this is the main common trait. New car design, new car technology and innovative solutions give the chance to create more performing models with the aim to entertain the automotive lovers and that range of passionate who love adrenalin, competition and performance. Formula 1 has become a real reference not only for the sporty area, but also for the people who want to live an extraordinary experience and, for this reason, is a world to look upon from a business perspective.