On 30 October, La Ciotat Shipyards (LCS), the public company managing and developing the shipyards of La Ciotat, held a roundtable discussion in order to determine whether or not the creation of a large yacht industrial cluster containing the trades of maintenance, repair and conversion, would be of benefit. The roundtable, which was moderated by Jean-Yves Saussol, CEO of LCS, included Antoni Tio Sauleda (president of Barcelona Cluster Nautic), Ben Mennem (president of MB92 La Ciotat), Isabelle Dimech (CEO of ID Yachting decoration), Gilles Guichet (CEO of Sud Monteurs), François Lambert (general delegate of Gican) and Serge Bornarel (general delegate of the UIMM Alpes-Méditerranée).

Initial exchanges confirmed that the La Ciotat contingent felt that the site had all the necessary components to initiate the formation of a cluster, largely thanks to the presence of a number of major refit businesses that are capable of attracting the largest superyachts in the world to the region (at the time of writing, La Ciotat site has four superyachts over 130m at the various facilities), which is soon to be bolstered by the completion of the Yachting Village and the various companies housed therein. That being said, the pervading opinion was that, in order to be a true cluster in the image of that of Barcelona, a thorough analysis of value chains would be required.

Referring to the example of the Barcelona cluster, Toni Tio emphasised the benefits of a clustering approach as a means of keeping up with a fast-growing naval industry. François Lambert, however, stressed that any formation of a cluster and the subsequent advantages it yields must not be at the expense of national industrial interest. The concern, it seems, is that the addition of foreign enterprises to the Yachting Village would be to the detriment of local businesses with established relationships in La Ciotat. However, it is understood that companies based in Marseille would be the major beneficiaries of the Yachting Village.

For all participants, training was highlighted as being a necessary pillar of the cluster approach. Isabelle Dimech outlined that excellence is learned first-hand in the field and, therefore, work-linked training should be promoted through the proposed cluster. It was further highlighted that soft skills were of equal important and that, like it or not, proficiency in English is a prerequisite for working in the yachting industry. Ben Mennem, nonetheless, expressed his optimism for the future given the excellent quality of the young project managers he has recently recruited.

Guest speaker, Frédéric Moncany de Saint-Aignan, president of the French maritime cluster and sponsor of La Ciotat’s Yachting Village, summarised proceedings by first focussing on excellence and the development of the wider maritime sector, and secondly on the notion of territory and competition. He also highlighted that the yachting community, while highly specialised, could stand to learn a lot from the maritime sector, especially where it concerns security, port safety and digitisation. Overall, he determined that the development of a coherent yachting cluster would be of benefit. Most notably he felt that such a cluster would aid French business when it comes to carrying weight in the international arena.  

On day one of The Superyacht Forum 2019, an esteemed panel of experts, including Rob Papworth of MB92 La Ciotat, will take to the stage to explore the ‘Next Generation of Infrastructure’. As the fleet continues to grow in terms of units, complexity, LOA and gross tonnage, the panel will explore how infrastructure, especially where it concerns refit and maintenance, is keeping pace.

Indeed, not only are the vessels becoming larger and more complex, owners are increasingly expecting more from shorter maintenance periods, requiring various facilities to not only modernise, but also reassess their various processes and efficiencies. Could the development of a cluster be a step towards more efficient projects at La Ciotat? The panel will explore ownership cycles, lifecycle modelling and how the industry support the client and the fleet.

Remaining tickets to The Superyacht Forum 2019 are available here. Join us from 18-20 November in Amsterdam and enjoy three days of engaging workshops, thought-provoking keynotes, and interact with leading minds from our market to learn about the subjects that you and your clients need to know.

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MB92 La Ciotat

La Ciotat Shipyards


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