Following the news that MarineMax, the US’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer, has acquired Northrop & Johnson (N&J), SuperyachtNews speaks exclusively with Kevin Merrigan, CEO and chairman of N&J about the details of the acquisition and what it means for the future of N&J and the superyacht customer journey. MarineMax’s acquisition of N&J follows its acquisition of Fraser Yachts in 2019, making the trio of businesses one the superyacht market’s dominant forces.
“We began discussing the acquisition at the beginning of 2020,” starts Merrigan. “Fraser has always been a great competitor of ours and close friends as our businesses started near enough at the same time. The merging of the three businesses will yield many benefits including enhanced client service, greater marketing power and the ability to read and predict the market through shared intelligence, as well as leveraging the businesses’ synergies and USPs. Fraser, for example, offers technical management where N&J does not, we are now able to direct our clients towards a business within the group rather than external to it. Equally, we offer insurance services that we are now able to offer to Fraser and MarineMax clients.”
While each business brings something unique to the table, Merrigan explains that the focus will be on exploiting the businesses’ synergies rather than focussing on their differences. In its infancy, the merger will be characterised by developing efficiencies between the three companies with a mind to the businesses' becoming a more unified entity and reaping the rewards therein.
“The disappointing part of being in yachting for 33 years is how few people know about the market and how few people, out of the global pool of UHNWIs, choose to charter or buy a yacht,” continues Merrigan. “The marriage with MarineMax brings us closer to our colleagues at Fraser and greatly enhances our outreach, which is supported by our partnerships with NetJets, Tim Davis real estate and Northern Trust Bank. The enhanced marketing budget and joined-up strategy that we now have will allow us to bring yachting to far more people.”
Yachting’s inability to access new markets and new demographics of UHNWI has long since been a major bugbear of the industry at large. Brokers will often lament that the hardest part of the job is getting potential clients on board a superyacht for the very first time, beyond this point the superyacht experience speaks for itself.
MarineMax’s second acquisition is arguably a sign of the times and a microcosm of the superyacht industry’s desire to professionalise and begin benefitting from various economies of scale. While the superyacht experience is undeniably excellent, the industry itself in terms of processes, technology, efficiencies and financial stability does, at times, leave much to be desired. By combining three well-established businesses, we can expect the newly formed trio to benefit from myriad economies of scale.
The merging of these businesses also speaks to another sign of the industry’s immaturity. For too many years, the superyacht market has seen itself as something ‘other’, as being distinct from the yachting market at large. By typically separating itself from the yachting market in general and treating itself as superior the market has made a rod for its own back by negatively impacting the continuity of the customer journey. By adding Fraser Yachts and N&J to its portfolio, MarineMax customers can now, theoretically, move smoothly throughout the size ranges from 20m to 100m-plus.
“We want to provide an easy and elegant solution to take clients through the size ranges and their wealth profile evolves,” concludes Merrigan.
According to The Superyacht Agency, N&J and Fraser Yachts combined account for 20.3 per cent of the estimated worth of all sole CA brokerage sales since 2015, making MarineMax’s acquisitions the most prolific brokerage business in the superyacht market by some €700million during this period.
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