While Croatia was hit fairly hard during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), during last week's visit to NCP Refit Shipyard in Sibenik, just north of Split showed a country working hard to put the worst days behind them. New members to the EU and a shipyard that has just been granted ICOMIA Refit membership, the team at NCP are hopeful for the future of their small but attractive piece of the Adriatic. I was able to sit down with members of the board, and the owner himself, Mr Goran Prgin, to discuss the future of the yard, the industry and Croatia as an emerging superyacht destination. Below is a snap shot of that conversation, with the full article to be published in issue 15 of The Superyacht Owner.
RC: How do you plan to attract people away from the long standing refit yards and cruising grounds of the wider Med and bring them to the Adriatic?
GP: I think we're seeing an increase of people who are a bit bored with the Cote d'Azur perhaps, and they're curious about what Croatia, and neighbouring countries can offer them. Even in the past year, we saw over 1000 yachts visit our waters, and when you consider a fleet of roughly 4000 yachts on the water, we're quite happy to see a quarter of them making the trip.
RC: How is the local economy recovering from the aftermath of the GFC?
GP: We're still climbing out of the worst days in Croatia. We saw a lot less yachts cruising and coming in for works in the past few years and think we still have a long road ahead to get to more stable ground. However, with Croatia now a part of the EU, and NCP given the seal of approval by ICOMIA, we hope to see the industry gaining strength in the coming years. Whilst we're the largest refit shipyard in the area, more are emerging, not only down our own coast, but further down the Adriatic and eastern Med and I think that will bring a healthy competition with good knock on effects for everyone.
RC: What can clients and owners expect when and if they decide to bring their yacht to NCP for a refit in the future?
GP: We pride ourselves on offering hard working staff, project managers and a dedicated senior team to ensure all of their needs are met. Most of the staff are local Croatians and tend to stay with the group for many years so relationships can be established and maintained over the lifetime of the yacht. We're still able to offer the same quality of services as the wider industry, but at a cheaper rate and are able to dedicate more time to projects perhaps than other more saturated yards. Ninety per cent of the clients we see are repeat and I think that speaks volumes as to what we can offer.
Mr Prgin is an avid yachtsman and fisherman himself who has become somewhat of a local celebrity. Purchasing what was mostly a shipyard graveyard in 2004, he's managed to invest over 400 local jobs into the economy and the knock on effect that increased owners and charterers have on the wider economy.