With much speculation around the performance of yacht manufacturers, SuperyachtNews speaks with Princess Yachts about how its retail performance has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as considering the sentiment of its owners and clients.
“In April we retailed 50 per cent of what we would typically retail in April,” starts Kiran Haslam, chief marketing officer at Princess Yachts. “When the pandemic first struck, in the whirlwind of uncertainty, we were expecting retails to drop considerably more, and even speculating 10 per cent of what we would usually retail in April seemed brave, so for us to achieve 50 per cent was incredibly positive. Additionally, within the first three weeks of May we have exceeded our previous sales recorded for May 2019. What that tells us is that there are a lot of people out there who still want their boats even more than before.”
According to Haslam, there has been consistency across the messaging and sentiment from Princess’ clients. Firstly, clients are in no hurry to return to using commercial airlines, they understandably have no desire to expose themselves or their families when going through airport departure gates, whether they are flying privately or commercial. Additionally, they have little desire to visit resorts or hotels where they have no control over the amount of contact that they have with other holiday makers.
“What they have been saying is that on their boats they know that every surface has been cleaned and they know that the crew has been living on board for at least a few weeks and, therefore, are beyond the quarantine period,” continues Haslam. “They are also acutely aware that any contact they have with people will be at their own discretion and that they will be able to get the quality time with their friends and family that has been dearly missed throughout lockdown. It is important to note that the global message throughout this crisis has been ‘stay at home’, well, remember that, as an industry, we build floating, moving luxury homes. Yachting isn’t about speed, it is about having fun or relaxation aboard with total control over your craft, whilst carving an adventure through a beautiful environment.”
While Princess’ performance and experience throughout this crisis suggests that the market will, perhaps, be in better shape that previously thought once the dust has settled, Haslam does warn that owners and prospective clients have seen little appetite for the traditional boat show model.
“We are spending a great deal of time and resources as a business interacting with our clients, the world around us and the strategy around boat shows,” explains Haslam. “The traditional boat show model we have all been part of needs a massive overhaul for a multitude of reasons, but primarily to contain spend and look at more sustainable ways to represent ourselves. Now, due to Covid-19, many owners that I have spoken to have voiced their concerns about attending a boat show, whether that is in Europe this Autumn or even later in the year. As a result, we are exploring different ways that we can go to them or that they can come to us on their own terms. Our clients love the interaction they can have with any just about anyone at Princess, so we are always trying to connect up with them on a one-to-one level. Both at the factory and across our global dealer network, we are currently doing that virtually with a lot more success than we initially imagined.”
According to The Superyacht Agency, Princess Yachts has delivered an average of 3.7 30m-plus projects annually since 2011, with its most prolific year to date coming in 2019 when the British superyacht manufacturer delivered seven projects. With three projects due for delivery, and Princess Yachts having recently resumed operations at is facilities, it is hoped that the COVID-19 crisis has not caused undue harm to Princess’ delivery schedule.
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