- Business - Interview with Benetti CCO Sebastiano Fanizza

By Dario Schiavo

Interview with Benetti CCO Sebastiano Fanizza

We catch up with Sebastiano Fanizza, Chief Commercial Officer of Benetti, to get his take on how the market is moving…

Cantiere Benetti, Livorno yard

With almost 20 years in the industry, Fanizza is well placed to share his insights into the market’s current trends. His main observation is that the sense of urgency to build has tailed off. Perhaps a natural human response to two-plus pandemic years that forced the world to be placed on obligatory standby pushed demand to record levels, and the yachting industry expanded and reinvested in order to meet this need.
Fanizza says that while this expansion has meant evolution within the sector, decisive factors have recently intervened to change the scenario somewhat. Referring to the wars first in Ukraine and now in Gaza, he believes the outlook has shifted. He says although Benetti’s presence in these countries has always flourished – it is possibly the only shipyard in the Israeli market, and in both Russia and Ukraine the sales numbers have always been high – such important exogenous factors will affect sales.

“Markets are like funnels: they empty out and if you don't fill them from the top, eventually there is nothing left.”

However, although the market may have slowed, it is not at a standstill. Fanizza explains: “During a recent meeting in Miami with about thirty brokers, where I wanted to present in detail our new projects to explain their strengths, to illustrate the appropriate strategies to approach the client, to understand what kind of clientele they need to address, I asked them a few questions and we discussed market trends. Based on their perception, it seems clear that despite international upheavals, the market has not stopped and the figure of the broker is still central. Probably the only concrete data recorded was a market slowdown that, in terms of urgency, has become less pressing, but it is nevertheless clear that there is still a solid foundation on which the next few years can be built.”

Benetti CCO Sebastiano Fanizza

This new fluidity has suggested to many that, given the trends, the US market is no longer number one in the world and has lost its hegemony. Fanizza perfectly renders the idea of what has happened and what is to come: “The US market boomed immediately, skyrocketing sales, great successes. However, markets, you know, are like funnels: they empty out and if you don't fill them from the top, eventually there is nothing left. However, it is also true that those who had to, and wanted to, buy a boat did so.”

On the other hand, Fanizza observes a more positive trend seen in the  increased demand coming from Turkey and Middle Eastern countries.

Within this context of a subtly changing market, the type of model and square footage also have their place, although he says that Benetti continues to focus on the sizes it has always worked with. “Great success continues to be had by the Oasis line, and we manage to sell out everything in a very short time. Of the Oasis 40M we have sold 27 models; of the 34-metre model we are on our 20th sale. Of the B.Now series, in addition to the record numbers of the 50 metres with 22 units sold, we have marketed a 60M, four 67M and a 72M that has not yet been delivered. When it happens, we will have the whole series of the Oasis and B.Now in the water.”

BNow 60M FB286

Fanizza also observes a growing trend within the industry for smaller yachts with a greater degree of customisation, although he adds that customisation has always been a flagship for Benetti, so that by now “those who come to Benetti expect bespoke”.

“Customisation is probably perceived as a new trend by those yards that were less used to customising than we are. We have always worked by approaching the client with targeted questions that give us a good understanding of what use he will make of his boat, who he will live it with, what places he will want to go, what kind of crew he will need during his travels.”
In such a landscape, he says, understanding that the market needs a new approach to layout is the real turning point. “Today we are moving forward with the handbrake on alert, and it is necessary to find different keys to provide to customers who have learned not to settle. It is increasingly evident that the classic model that offers bow, stern, centre salon, dining, galley, master cabin is outdated or at any rate, there are those who want to surpass it.

B.Yond 55M

“Such a boat is now one of many ... and to attract the customer you have to know how to surprise, you have to make an appealing product without changing that usual paradigm that has guaranteed success over the years. We succeeded in this feat with the Oasis, and now we are trying to do it on the other product ranges as well. The B.Yond 55M designed by Lobanov starts from that layout, which has been wildly successful; just think that we were supposed to sell one every two years, according to the initial plan, and we sold 10.”
Benetti’s Motopanfilo 45M also seems to promise a new approach. “The project is that of a full-beam main salon on a 45-metre that gives you the impression of living in a gigantic cockpit.”
Along with the other Italian shipyards, Benetti continues to look to the future, interpreting the signals, which aren’t always positive, coming from the market. Fanizza sheds light on the dynamic yacht market – initially spurred by pandemic demand but now grappling with global uncertainties like conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

While acknowledging a perceptible slowdown, there's a resilience underpinning the industry. Benetti's adaptive strategies, seen in successful models and a commitment to customisation, reflect a balanced response to evolving trends. The shift towards innovative layouts hints at an industry in flux, suggesting both challenges and opportunities on the horizon.

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Azimut Benetti

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