With La Ciotat Shipyards’ construction of its new 4,300-tonne shiplift underway – due for completion in 2022 - SuperyachtNews spoke exclusively to La Ciotat Shipyards’ CEO, Jean-Yves Saussol, about their positioning among the competition, and the updates regarding the maritime cluster. 

“We now have a real focus on bigger boats, and we have the infrastructure and the capacity to do so,” began Jean-Yves Saussol, CEO, La Ciotat Shipyards. “We have invested in the 4,300-tonne shiplift, ‘Atlas’, in order to keep up with the pace of our competitors in Barcelona and Genova.”

The new shiplift shares the name as the Titan God, who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders - an appropriate name to reflect the strength of the new structure which will mean that La Ciotat is “one of the sole shipyards in this part of France that can handle boats of this size,” explained Saussol.

“We are also building a maritime cluster with the top skills and knowledge to provide the highest quality of service to our clients, and that’s why we’re working on our Yachting Village, in order to host an array of high-level companies specialising in yachting, and with a worldwide knowledge in the yachting industry,” Saussol continued, emphasising La Ciotat’s passion to work on bigger, more complex boats and higher added-value projects.

Any company who wanted to become part of the cluster had to go through a series of competitive procedures, often with four companies competing for one space at once. “They had to present to us and describe what they want to do, and what areas they have knowledge and experience in. If you want to build a cluster, you have to have strong partners. It’s good to have some small companies but if the smaller companies cannot grow at the same pace as the industry then it can cause problems. We need companies with the financial strength to form the base of the cluster,” said Saussol, who also outlined that they are considering businesses who work with companies that are already in the yard.

Further demonstrating La Ciotat’s premium offerings, Saussol explained that they try not to have too many companies working in the same fields at La Ciotat. “This is so that we can cover as many areas as possible, so that people can find many skillsets when they arrive in La Ciotat and don’t have to travel elsewhere,” he continued. “The selection process involves the companies who are already here, such as MB92 and Monaco Marine, giving us feedback on the quality of the company, and their interest in having a certain company over another.

“We have to make everybody work together in the long-term. I very much like what Pepe Garcia and his team [at MB92] are building in terms of long-term relationships with their subcontractors. First, we have to choose the right partners.”

“We are very close to a National Park (Parc National des Calanques), so we have to maintain incredibly high environmental standards, meaning that we are now experiencing a long phase of environmental authorisation including, for example, our 4,300-tonne shiplift” - Jean-Yves Saussol - CEO - La Ciotat Shipyards

An imperative part of any business hoping to hold a strong position over its competitors during the next decade will be its dedication to a more sustainable future. “We are very close to a National Park (Parc National des Calanques), so we have to maintain incredibly high environmental standards, meaning that we are now experiencing a long phase of environmental authorisation including, for example, our 4,300-tonne shiplift,” Saussol commented. “This is both a constraint and a chance for development, because we strongly believe in the importance of our environment, and capacity to set up a greener industry for yachting. We are very much aligned with the strategy and objectives of MB92, and that’s why we have chosen them as our main partner.”

Alongside the industrial companies, Saussol added that La Ciotat is also considering having companies from the service sector involved. “With bigger boats coming to La Ciotat, we need to work on the amenities available to the service sector, for example, offices for management companies, provisioning companies, and for people that work in HR, etc. At the moment, however, we have so much demand that we have had to completely industrialise our lot with only industrial companies. In the future, we will have space for more tertiary service companies.”

La Ciotat is currently in the process of becoming an ISPS code-compliant harbour, increasing the stringency of rules surrounding port entry. “We only grant companies access for short periods of time; companies who have heavily invested into the yard are able to stay for a long amount of time, but if people are renting shops or office space, they are given a grant that is a maximum of four years. This is because when a company initially wants to join the shipyard, they are very competitive at the beginning, so in order to avoid complacency over time, we provide ourselves with the possibility to renew the contract,” allowing for La Ciotat to continuously adapt to a changing market and a changing demand.

With so much new technology being harnessed, Saussol is now also focusing on companies who are able to keep on top of this, at the forefront of their field, in order for the yard to be one step ahead of its competitors...

Furthermore, Saussol strongly believes that the technology used in yachts today will change dramatically in years to come; for the propulsion, for the engines and for power generation. With so much new technology being harnessed, Saussol is now also focusing on companies who are able to keep on top of this, at the forefront of their field, in order for the yard to be one step ahead of its competitors.

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La Ciotat Shipyards


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