SuperyachtNews.com speaks with Antony Sheriff, the newly appointed executive chairman at Princess Yachts International and former Mclaren Automotive managing director, about what lessons the superyacht industry can learn from the automotive world and the cost of investment.
“Its not a just a one-way street,” starts Sheriff. “One thing that has really impressed me is the extreme level of customer care, I think this is something that is extremely relevant in other industries but typically gets pushed to the side in lieu of industrial priorities.”
Sheriff explains that this care was showcased at the Düsseldorf Boat Show. “It is not just within the sales process,” he says. “It is also within the ownership experience.” Sheriff correctly points out that within the superyacht industry there is an almost unprecedented opportunity to cultivate owner relationships. It is these relationships that see owner’s yachts grow in size without ever changing builder.
Antony Sheriff at Boot Düsseldorf 2016
However, Sheriff also points out that the superyacht industry is lacking a degree of systemisation that other, more industrially savvy, markets use to guarantee the economies of scale on which large scale production relies.
“I think at Princess we are actually quite far ahead on this, but this is certainly an industry with many smaller players who have what you might call craft production, it feels a little like the British sports car industry some time ago,” he says.
When asked about Princess’s self-professed conservatism and whether it was the best course of action Sheriff responds, “There is a difference between conservatism and understatement and I think understatement is a better word for Princess. Certainly from a design and execution standpoint our products are not conservative, there is a lot of interesting technology and a lot of attention to detail – but we don’t present it to the world by shouting.”
Düsseldorf served as the launchpad for Princess’ new 30m superyacht, the 30M. The decision not to showcase the yacht at the London Boat Show raised a few eyebrows, given the Britishness this yard traditionally chooses to exude. Perhaps it underlines Princess’ new international credentials. Regardless of what this move might signify culturally, it was, apparently, due to an aversion to British weather and the spatial restrictions of the ExCeL hall.
“There was a lot of interest in the 30m and we have a solid set of contracts written,” says Sheriff. “Its difficult to tell with boat shows because people come but may not put pen to paper until a month later, two months later, or even six months later. But the sales guys have come back from Düsseldorf with smiles on their faces.”
"We have spent a lot of money growing the business and it is now in a state where is it going to bare fruit,” he finishes.