Considering the market forces at play, perhaps it was only a matter of time before Benetti began offering its clients semi-custom models over 50m. Confirmation came during the Monaco Yacht Show when the Italian builder announced that after a year of market surveys and concept studies it was ready to start on-spec construction of two new projects, a 50m and a 65m, under the semi-custom Benetti Now brand.
“Having built and delivered over 350 yachts we wanted to put into practice what we’ve learned, rather than starting over each time we build a full-custom yacht,” says Vincenzo Poerio, Benetti CEO. “The Benetti Now range combines the best of our standards and know-how while reducing the waiting time by half for our clients.”
Many prospective owners are simply not prepared to wait for a custom superyacht that can take more than three years to realise from concept to completion. Moreover, Italian flexibility and willingness to please has hurt builders like Benetti in the past as late change orders delay deliveries and ratchet up costs for the shipyard, which are not always passed on to the client.
When Fabio Ermetto was appointed Benetti CCO, he brought with him his experience as sales & marketing director at Heesen, which has successfully based its business model on series production. The Amels Limited Editions range is further proof that building to a common technical platform can save time and money for both client and builder.
“When I joined Benetti I started pushing the semi-custom concept, but it took a while to convince my colleagues that it could make life easier for us and our owners,” says Ermetto. “We’ve been in conversations with some clients for up to 9 months, but they don’t always know what they want until they see it. Offering a semi-custom package based on a common technical platform avoids expensive delays, while still allowing ample opportunities for customisation.”
Interestingly, the shipyard describes the Benetti Now range as a “smart-designed custom series”, but to all intents and purposes it is a semi-custom range—and none the worse for it. The steel and aluminium series comprises four models: the B164’ (50m), B192’ (58.6m), B214’ (65m) and B240’ (73m). All four models have exterior styling by the long-standing Benetti designer Stefano Natucci with the option of a plumb or traditional flared bow. Redman Whiteley Dixon, who also has a previous history with Benetti (65m Nataly and FB277, the 107m in build), is responsible for developing the interior design.
Benetti is no stranger to semi-custom construction with its smaller composite yachts built in Viareggio, but transferring that knowledge to 50m and above has required integrating series production practices into the custom business model at Benetti’s superyacht shipyard in Livorno.
Naturally, even full-custom builders like to integrate as many proven engineering solutions into their new builds as possible and over dinner in Monaco, Ermetto admitted that the new B164’ and B214’ are not, strictly speaking, Benetti’s first on-spec builds to share a common platform. Project Balance (FB276) due for delivery in 2018, for example, is basically a sister ship of 63m 11/11, and the B164’ is based on the same platform as 45m Domani (FB701) and FB702 in build in Viareggio.