The Azimut Benetti Group has announced a re-structuring process that will see Fabio Ermetto move from his position as CEO of Fraser Yachts to the role of Chief Commercial Officer at Benetti.  Ermetto’s position at Fraser will be filled by Roberto Giorgi, previously honorary president of V. Ships. spoke exclusively to Ermetto on his first day in the new position, which will see him return to the commercial operations of the new build market.

“I started my career at Benetti as a naval architect, and then a project manager, so it’s almost like a coming home”, he explained. The new build market he is returning to, he says, is in an encouraging state and there has lot of enthusiasm surrounding negotiations in recent times – something he will have borne witness to at Fraser – with Benetti’s order book looking healthier than most.

“We are definitely in a better state than in the last two or three years and I expect the picture to improve year by year”, Ermetto says. “It definitely won’t come back to the levels of 2007 or 2008 and we should believe that what we have now is the normal level, more or less. But we can expect more stable growth, which is not necessarily a bad thing because companies think more about [long-term] growth.”

Ermetto feels that the new build market is yet to constrict to its natural size, and he expects to see some peripheral players disappear within the next 12 months. This though, is not necessarily a bad thing, as it will inevitably drive up quality among the remaining players. This is something Ermetto agrees with: “Before you had [instances] where three friends hired a piece of land and a temporary shed and started with a 60m boat with no experience. They were very aggressive on pricing and they built one or two boats but now they’ve disappeared.”

He will now oversee all of Benetti’s sales and marketing activity, a not inconsiderable task, considering the scope of the yard’s operations. As with many of today’s market leading yards, Benetti has combined the roles of sales and marketing directors under one guise, as shipyards look to forge more business from its direct interactions with the client, and not just through the use of traditional brokerage intermediaries.

His previous experience with Fraser and Heesen has, he says, equipped him with a perspective from both sides of the fence, an undoubted asset. “There are more cases of the client coming directly to the shipyard - normally because they think they can get a better deal”, he explains. “But from the builder’s point of view, we are extremely happy to work with any broker…shipyards, owners and a professional broker is a very good combination but, from the shipyard’s point of view, it is much more difficult to manage an intermediary who doesn’t offer a lot of added value to the deal.”

Mr Ferruccio Luppi, CEO of the Azimut Benetti Group, has said of the new organisational structure: “We are extremely pleased with these new appointments, which show that over the years the Group has been able to attract top-level professionals into key roles with a view to pursuing our latest strategies. I'm sure that Fabio Ermetto’s appointment will infuse new energy and enthusiasm into the Benetti sales team, which is already acknowledged worldwide for its expertise. I also wish to thank Mr Giorgi for sharing his unique expertise in the nautical industry with the Azimut Benetti Group, and in particular with the Fraser Yachts brand, in order to pursue our strategic objectives for the next three years.”

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