9 Aug 2013
Cecil Wright strikes early charter success
“The time was right for me to start my own business,” Chris Cecil-Wright says as we speak by telephone from his new home in Hampshire. The former Edmiston and Company director and sales broker has opened his own superyacht sales, charter and new build management company, Cecil Wright (without the hyphen) with the tagline "fanatical about yachts."
“I’d built quite a lot of big boats that had come to an end, and I hadn’t started building any new ones; the market was quiet, my kids are all off at school now, so I had the time to myself at home… everything just aligned for me,” he says. Certainly there was little question that one of the top brokers in the superyacht market would continue over two decades of work with some of the industry's more audacious new build clients. What he didn't suspect was the value his charter business would bring to the young firm.
“We’ve got some very strong charter business, which has actually taken us a bit by surprise,” Cecil-Wright says. “I introduced a lot of charter at Edmiston, but I never used to follow or understand how much money was being made. Now that it’s my business, I can see the amount of business I was passing on. I’m proud to say that we’ve recouped all of the costs of setting up the business and as of today, have cash in the bank until the end of February in terms of running costs, based on the 12 charters we’ve placed this summer.”
He says that selling boats for someone else’s business had lost its fun and that he’s enjoying the responsibilities of working with his friends and previous colleagues. “It’s a completely different feeling when you’re in business for yourself,” he says.
The boutique brokerage is based in London (where clients’ money is made) and Monaco (where clients’ money is spent), with Monaco being the hub of operations from which his long-time assistant Maria Botwright, charter broker Eugenia Formicheva and his trainee sales broker Henry Smith, as well as his accounts and legal teams are based.
Charter broker Claire van der Vorm is also on the team, based in London. At Edmiston, she and Cecil-Wright had established a very profitable working relationship that Cecil-Wright was keen to ensure continued in his new venture. As Cecil-Wright describes, they had naturally evolved a mutually beneficial relationship of charter and brokerage referrals to one another, which worked extremely well. “Before I left, Claire and I were responsible for a big chunk of Edmiston’s income,” he says.
With the perspective afforded him as he sets out to build a brand new brokerage business, Cecil-Wright has cultivated a few opinions on how the business actually works. “Superyacht brokerage is entirely relationship-driven, and it’s proven by the way I’m able to do business now,” he says. “I’ve launched with no brand whatsoever, no awareness of the identity, and yet, we’re doing good business because this team has good, strong relationships. Once you have a pool of clients and their trust, you maintain it through providing the right information when it’s needed, rather than through flashy marketing.”
He has also made use of the latest technology to reduce overheads. “I believe the big brokerage houses are going to find it more and more difficult to compete with the small brokerage houses like me, who have very low running costs and are able to move quickly,” he says. “All the big brokerage houses have these listings departments, for example—I don’t have a single person. I have a clever piece of private, internal software that has completely negated the necessity for a listings department.”
“The thing that differentiates us is that we don’t sell our boats, we sell our relationships,” Cecil-Wright says. “Once you have a relationship with us, and we’re confident that you trust us, we’ll sell you a boat.”
Cecil Wright's Monaco office is at the Mirabel, just a short walk from the casino square, and St.James Square is the London address.
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