On 21 March 2018, SuperyachtNews reported that Richard Hadida, lifelong yachting enthusiast, tech entrepreneur and owner of 24m Lush, had acquired Oyster Yachts following the British sailing yacht stalwart’s entry into administration. Almost a year later, we sat down with Hadida to find out more about his experiences since acquiring Oyster Yachts.
On the one hand, people say that you shouldn’t mix business and pleasure. And, by the very same token, other people say that you should always follow your passions. How have you found the experience so far?
“People keep asking me, ‘is it as hard work as you expected?’. But it is difficult for me to answer that. The project has been so immersive and I have fallen into it in such a big way that [Oyster] is just totally dominating my life – and I am loving every minute of it. I get out of bed with a bounce in my step every day and I am excited. I thought I was inspired before, but this has reminded me how it feels to be genuinely inspired by your work.
“The gaming world was very rewarding for me, but it is not in my heart, like sailing. The trick now is to make the business profitable so I can enjoy it all the more.”
What have the major challenges been?
“Where do I start? There are challenges in every element of the business. We have bought the plant where the hulls are built and invested heavily in the whole facility, including new heating and air management systems. The facility is now state-of-the-art and we have partnered with Lloyd’s Register so every hull moulded will leave with an LR Moulding Certificate.
“We have two different yards where we are building the boats and we are constantly trying to improve efficiency, driving down the hours on the boats, while increasing the quality. There are countless aggregated savings to benefit from, whether it be reducing a particular task from 30 hours to 10 hours or another from 10 to five.”
How is the Oyster brand evolving?
“The website, the documentation, the literature, the branding, the clothes people where…it’s hard to name a part of the business that we haven’t uncovered, looked inside and considered how we can improve it. Little by little, we are starting to see the benefits of this. We have done a few boat shows now and it seems like there is a bit of stir building [around Oyster].”
What characterises the typical Oyster owner?
“Oyster, like any other shipyard, has a global market. If you look at our customer base, the buyers come from countries all over the world. However, they can typically be characterised as being successful and adventurous. We want to extend this to every territory where there are buyers and we will be using print, online, social and various high-tech marketing mechanisms to reach them. We are currently speaking with influencers to build programmes around them and to encourage buyers to move towards our brand.”
Is the future bright for sailing yachts?
“As the CEO of Oyster, I feel like it is my duty to promote the sailing yacht market generically to the rest of the world. I believe that as younger people, who are much more educated when it comes to environmentalism, begin to start buying boats, they will be far more inclined to buy a sail boat, rather than a motor boat, because of the ethical values espoused by the sailing yacht market.
“The sail boat industry owes it to ourselves, and to others, to help educate the market about sail boats. I think that a lot of potential buyers simply won’t even consider sail boats. They worry, for instance, that they don’t know how to sail and, therefore, that they couldn’t possibly own a sailing yacht. Of course you can! You just need a good captain and an enthusiastic crew. I am amazed by how many people I meet in the world that would never consider sail boats because they haven’t been exposed to them. And yet, if you take them for a little spin they are sold almost immediately.”
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