Nefzi told those present at the Feadship MYS briefing that the company aims to launch new aspects of the Charter Division in the early part of 2014. He explained that when it comes to charter, "the aim has to be to offer the right services" and that as well as exclusively offering Feadships, the division will "create an experience" by suggesting the right destinations, itinerary and program. "We want to evolve from simply offering a yacht to offering a complete yachting experience,” he said.
Photo: Justin Ratcliffe
For owners and potential owners, who are intrigued by the Feadship brand, this service could be the way to 'try before they buy'. While there are many Feadships available on the open market, as director Karlene Pack pointed out, there are many that are not and the Charter Division will be able to arrange charters on board a Feadship not openly listed.
However, "private select charters" are not the only focus for Feadship, as the team is actively looking at opportunities to add to its books, which currently includes 39m Go, launched in 2010. As well as Feadships that are exclusively available through the yard itself, the Charter Division will also help clients who come to them wanting to charter a particular Feadship they don't manage. “If we are not the central agent for a particular yacht then we will take our client to a Feadship even if it is not one we have listed,” explained Pack, who works alongside Feadship America director Tim Hamilton.
A shipyard like Feadship wading into the charter arena does bring up the question about whether they will be stepping on the toes of classic brokerage houses. When questioned about this, Nefzi made it clear that the goal was simply to enhance yachting for their clients, and that he couldn't “think of any reasons why this service would be of direct threat to existing brokerage houses”. He was also clear to point out that the division would continue to focus on charter only and that there are no plans for Feadship to venture into the sale or purchase of existing Feadship vessels. Interestingly, one broker with Feadships on his books, who wished to remain anonymous, was less than welcoming of Feadship's new venture.
“It is a well known fact that a good percentage of the buyers involved in yacht sales are ex-charterers,” said the broker. “So anything that takes charters away from our office is taking potential purchase and management clients away. We can’t complain about competition, as the market is open to anyone but we won’t welcome it and won’t pretend to. I can’t see how anyone could uphold the argument that setting up a charter brokerage for Feadships is not going into direct competition with other charter brokerage houses.”
Karlene Pack at the Feadship press lunch
For owners and clients though, Feadship's charter service can only be a welcome addition to the brokerage world. As the builder of some of the most private yachts for some of the world's most notoriously secretive owners, the opportunity to have access to and charter vessels that may not otherwise be available can only be a good thing.