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One to One: Rob Papworth

Papworth discusses how the top tier of refit specialists are managing the burgeoning amount of complex refit and restoration work, and rapid market growth…

In the latest edition of The Superyacht Group’s Digital Dialogues, William Mathieson is joined by Rob Papworth, Operations Director at MB92 La Ciotat to discuss how the top tier of refit specialists are managing the burgeoning amount of complex refit and restoration work, and rapid market growth.

For the past few months, as the tide has seemingly begun to turn, with regards to the global pandemic, there appears to be a strong and robust return to activity in the refit market. Papworth explains the possible reasoning behind this, from his perspective as a respected stakeholder in the refit market.

“In a crisis, for us, it always feels like our clients become more prudent, and more importantly, the due diligence of people who are not our clients becomes much stronger. Owners begin to take longer about their decision-making progress and being much more thorough. Our hope is that owners are making good choices and we’ll be included in those choices,” Papworth begins.

“This whole idea [that has become even more apparent this year] of a yacht being a safe haven when there are limited potential travel options, which is reflected in the brokerage numbers from last year, does impact us. If there’s a strong new-build or brokerage demand then it’s usually mirrored in refit,” he continues.

Mathieson and Papworth go on to discuss the impact on contracts due to the global crisis, and whether the pandemic has triggered a long-term upturn in refit activity, or if this is more of a short-term, knee-jerk reaction from the market.

Mathieson then poses the question of whether Papworth believes that, further to this upturn in refit activity, we will start to see greater forward planning on the part of the clients.

“Any owner, from yachts to houses, has got the right to decide at a certain point that they want something else – such as a new cabin put into a yacht. It’s part of our challenge to meet those requests. We’ve got a large contract in the yard now, on a boat over 70m, for an extension, and the boat arrived to us when the designs hadn’t even been finished. That’s our life and that’s what we have to deal with,” Papworth answers.

“I’m not pinning my hopes on change; I really feel it’s our job to adjust to our clients and not the other way round,” Papworth concluded with a rather refreshing slant on the industry/client dynamic.

To discover Papworth’s areas of focus for collective improvement, as well as his thoughts on the growing number of entrants coming into the refit market, watch the full interview here.

The One to One series is a collective campaign for change and industry improvement, and we welcome participants from all sectors. If you would like to take part or contribute your thoughts, please contact Eleanor Shepherd

You can view the ever-growing archive of Digital Dialogues here.

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MB92 La Ciotat

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