In addition to selected members of of the press, a group of some 30 yacht brokers were present at the event on Thursday 9 March, before departing for Lapland and the Heesen Winter Cup, the shipyard’s annual ‘thank you’ to the brokerage community. As Project Maia is being built on speculation, it is their task to sell the 50m displacement yacht that will be ready for delivery next year.
Clifford Denn and Jason Macaree of Reymond Langton were also on hand to talk us through the styling cues behind the exterior and interior design respectively. The same design studios were responsible for the exterior and interior design of 50m Ann G, delivered by Heesen last year, and the new project shares the same technical platform.
2016 was a decisive year for Heesen. Besides launching 70m Galactica Super Nova, its largest yacht to date, the shipyard inaugurated its new 85m dry dock. Arthur Brouwer (pictured, left, with sales director Mark Cavendish) also took over as CEO at the beginning of the year with the mandate to take the company into the next stage of its development. To do this, he has drawn on his experience of lean production practices in the automotive sector.
“Last year was a tough year and we had some fall-out of customers,” says Brouwer. “In fact, the market has never been so low, but we’re beginning to feel the benefits of our efficient production and continuing investment in the yard’s infrastructure. It means we are well prepared for the future.”
“It would be wrong to assume that our ongoing success has been a walk in the park and the market is still very tough,” reiterates Mark Cavendish. “Serious competition from low-priced southern European builders, a weak sterling after the Brexit vote, and a sluggish European economy, do not help to sell high-quality Dutch superyachts!”
Although Heesen is now able to build up to 85m and beyond, its core business is still in the 45-60m bracket. In fact, it currently has 10 yachts ranging from 47 to 56m (custom and semi-custom, steel and aluminum, semi-displacement, displacement, and fast displacement) in construction with deliveries that span through 2019. Key to Heesen’s business strategy is that it has the financial resources to build multiple speculation projects, but selling these projects in a challenging market relies on close ties with the brokerage community.
“The relationship we have with brokers literally feeds the yard,” says Brouwer. “The same is true of the media and strong relations with the press is absolutely necessary if we are to show our products to the market and perform as industry leaders.”
While the brokers are away enjoying their winter gathering as guests of Heesen, no doubt they will be pondering their client lists, as apart from Project Maia there is also a 47m displacement and a 55m Fast Displacement spec project for sale.
In April, Heesen will launch 50m Project Nova, the first Fast Displacement yacht equipped with hybrid propulsion.
Photos by Justin Ratcliffe