YachtTalk special 5: Market special with Fraser Yachts
Andrew Bond, sales broker at British brokerage house Fraser Yachts, describes the current state of the superyacht market as “booming”. In our fifth episode of Heesen’s YachtTalk Specials, host Charlotte Kan heads to Fraser’s headquarters in central London to speak with Bond and Heesen’s Executive Commercial Officer Mark Cavendish to find out more.
Bouyant & booming
The yachting industry’s busy summer season is now upon us, but in the months leading up to this peak time the sector has enjoyed a substantial uptick in sales.
“The word that everyone is using to describe the yacht market is booming,” says Bond. “We couldn’t have predicted this a year ago today, but both shipyards and brokerage have seen significant increases in sales. At Fraser, we have had our best year on record and we’re only halfway through the year. I think that’s a true reflection as to where the market is.”
Cavendish supports Bond’s view, describing the market as ‘buoyant’: “It’s true to say that the market is very active at the moment, and yet it’s been a strange time, too. Only last year, the market came to a grinding halt in February and we all dashed for cover. Then in Q4, we were hit by a wall of enquiries and fortunately a lot of contracts have flowed from that.”
“Heesen has always produced a first-class product,” says Bond. “They’re an incredibly busy shipyard at present, with only two projects available next year – everything else is sold. From a broking perspective, Heesen’s marketing strategy is one of the best out there with the annual Ski Cup being a coveted trip. What that develops is outstanding relationships between the broking community and the shipyard.”
Bond also highlights that because Heesen builds yachts on speculation, it’s easier for brokers to take their clients and prospective owners to the shipyard to see a yacht that is 70-80% completed and still for sale.
“If you have a client that can’t quite understand or envisage a yacht in 2D, the fact that they can see it in build and make the decision to purchase it in situ is a fantastic opportunity,” he says.
Another fact that Bond believes assists with yacht sales is the activity on the yacht charter market. “Off the back of this pandemic, which led people to realise the importance of time,” he says, “we’ve seen many charter clients, many of whom have always had the capacity to own yachts, but now choose to take the plunge into ownership, as they feel they want to control the bubble that they’re in.”
As well as yacht ownership, Bond confirmed a rise in demand from charter clients, too, many of whom who wish to travel further afield – “Alaska, Galapagos and destinations off the beaten track are being requested quite significantly,” he says. “This pandemic has focused a group of people who have chosen to get into yachting because they’ve seen it as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones in a controlled environment.”
Heesen’s XVenture, an explorer yacht concept developed in collaboration with Winch Design, is available in a 45 to 65-metre size range and satisfies the growing demand for expedition yachting. “I’d like to think that the appetite for this kind of yacht is only going to grow,” says Cavendish. “As a shipyard, we’re needing to build for an entirely new client base.”
The rise in demand for adventure links with a reduction in age of today’s yacht owners, Bond notes, pointing out that a large number of recent yacht deliveries, including 100-metre plus vessels, are owned by people in their late-20s.
“There are so many avenues to market now with assets trading in cryptocurrency and business ventures that enable young people to earn significant amounts of money,” says Bond. “The milk run that used to exist from Monaco to St Tropez is not what the younger owners of today are interested in – they prefer heliskiing in Alaska, cruising the Japanese coastline, or diving in Polynesia.”
Freedom to travel
When asked what he has personally missed the most about the yachting industry in the past year, Bond spoke of the advantages of face-to-face networking and the spontaneous nature of the yachting lifestyle.
“I like the fact that you don’t necessarily know, from one day to the next, where you’re going to be or when you might need to jump on a plane to go and meet a client,” he says. “It makes me sad that the pandemic replaced that freedom with a watertight administrative activity, and it’s had even more of an impact on the owners looking to buy or charter. That spontaneity is something I think we’ve all really missed.”
Cavendish agrees: “I think it quite simply comes down to the freedom to travel – to be able to invite clients to come and visit the shipyard whenever they choose to. The sooner we’re able to do that, the better for everyone.”
In the previous episode of YachtTalk Specials, Jim Dixon of Winch Design asked Bond the following question: “Fraser and Heesen have enjoyed a long and productive relationship together. What do you think Fraser buyers would expect now from Heesen and its future collaborators?”
Bond responds with the following: “One thing we’re featuring heavily at the moment with our new-build clients, and those entering the market, is sustainability. People are very concerned about carbon footprints and wanting to know how they can use their yachts in a sustainable way. Secondly, I think the way yachts are being used is changing quite rapidly and has been for the past five years. Owners want less lounging and more active pursuits. It’s about keeping the client engaged with their yacht and stocked up with an armoury of toys.”
The next instalment of YachtTalk Specials will be at design house Reymond Langton and will see Charlotte Kan in conversation with designer Pascale Reymond. When invited to ask Reymond one pressing question, Bond said: “If you were to design a yacht for yourself, what size would it be, and why?”
Tune in to find out!