Just over a year ago, then-European-based bluewater, incorporating yacht management, charter, brokerage, crew training and crew recruitment, expanded into the USA in a merger with International Crew Training and Crew Unlimited, adding the Fort Lauderdale-based training school and recruitment office into the bluewater family.
Twelve months after that announcement, bluewater has confirmed it will be expanding its yacht management offering to its US-based operations, under the leadership of Clive McCartney, previously at Fraser for 13 years, and now bluewater’s new vice president of marine operations and business development.
In what McCartney calls “a continuation of that [the ICT-Crew Unlimited-bluewater merger] process”, the Antibes office already has a yacht-management team of eight, providing a variety of management services for superyachts up to 90m and, McCartney says, “our aim for the bluewater USA yacht management team will be to share best practice with the Antibes staff and provide support to the fleet worldwide”.
Pre-empting a question that we often hear from cynics of those companies offering a full complement of services to its clients, I ask McCartney what he would say to those suggesting offering the full scope of services is, in fact, a conflict of interest. For example, if a company offers both management and recruitment, the management company could encourage new crewmembers to be recruited, bringing in more money for the company. Yet McCartney has a clear retort. “The yacht manager has a responsibility to the owner. Our contract is always with the owner, not with the crew. One of the roles of yacht management is to put the captain in a position to succeed, and you can’t do that unless you’re being transparent at every level. If there’s any element of conflict of interest, at any level,” he continues, “then the captain’s position is compromised, and he or she isn’t able to manage his or her crew, or the yacht’s budget, or any other element, to the satisfaction of the owner.”
“We want to deliver all our services at the highest level of transparency and quality, so any misconceptions about conflict of interest don’t arise in the first place. But, if they do, we’re able to address these, and satisfy the client that we’re addressing them should they arise at any point.”
For McCartney, clarity is key. “We want to deliver all our services at the highest level of transparency and quality, so any misconceptions about conflict of interest don’t arise in the first place,” he says. “But, if they do, we’re able to address these, and satisfy the client that we’re addressing them should they arise at any point.”
The current standing of the US market is an important factor, and one McCartney is keen to highlight played a role in the decision for bluewater to expand its yacht management services. “It’s important to emphasise that there are a lot of yacht owners in the US, and this organic growth will put us in a better position to support those clients with the full set of services.” And McCartney’s absolutely right. According to The Superyacht Intelligence Agency, 40 per cent of yacht sales since 2014 have taken place in the US, while in 2016 and 2017, 120 superyacht resales took place in the US – the majority of which will need some form of management service. And these figures aren’t set to change any time soon, with three Foreign Trade Zones now established in Fort Lauderdale.
But McCartney is also keen to point out it’s not just the US market that should be a focus. “There’s also growing ownership in the Near East, Far East and Central and South America,” he explains.
This expansion of bluewater’s management services into the US serves at yet more evidence of an interestingly placed US market, where ship builders are struggling, yet there is a clear and strong market still available for the sales themselves, and the associated services required – in bluewater’s case, yacht management.
For more information on the US brokerage market, see The US Yachtbuilding Report, on p.41-57, in Issue 182 - subsbcribe here.
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