BMComposites contacted The Superyacht Group for an exclusive conversation about how the lockdown period has affected the operations of the company. As an incredibly bespoke small business, and an example of the countless innovators and artisans operating within superyacht industry niches, the story of this Palma-based company is extremely pertinent.
“A state of alarm and national lockdown was imposed in Spain on 14 March and for the following two weeks we managed to keep working in the port of STP and in our workshop, following strict protocols”, explains Managing Director, Mark Branagh. “During total lockdown in Spain which started on 29 March the whole business was closed for two weeks. We had one day’s notice that this was going to happen and managed to scramble the team to finish a prepreg build in the port on the Sunday before the midnight deadline. With the lifting of some restrictions we were able to re-open on the 14 April under strict controls, but with some of our project team stuck in lockdown in the UK and Portugal.”
As of 4 May, the company is working at full capacity. This has been a gradual process, with initial works recommencing on 14 April, at 50% and focused on existing projects. “We were fortunate enough to have sent proposals out for various projects in March that are now coming to fruition,” explains Branagh, in what is an encouraging market movement so soon into the transition back to normality. “[This included] the signing last Friday of a new 84m2 carbon fibre bimini for a motoryacht to be built in our workshop outside the port, which has enabled us to quickly ramp up to 100% manpower.
Like many small businesses employing specialist craftspeople and rarely-found skillsets, Branagh says his greatest challenge has been balancing liquidity with the need to preserve both the health and employment of his valued workforce, and expressed both his gratitude for their perseverance, and relief at the speed at which the company has generated momentum.
However, the complexity of the superyacht supply chain, and the varying rates at which this international network is returning to functionality, remains an industry-wide challenge. Branagh has currently found this to be a mixed bag. “We have a strong relationship with Gurit and are the official distributor for their materials for the Balearics and Spain. Their supply chain has proved robust under these challenging circumstances and we’ve had no problems receiving deliveries from them. With other smaller suppliers it has been more complicated to know what hours they are open and whether we will be able to get materials transported in a timely fashion.”
And Branagh is also largely positive or the market’s ability to bounce back in the medium-term. The worry in Spain is the possibility of the virus returning in the autumn, but we all have to get our systems and business as fully prepared as possible so we can react with agility and learn from what we’ve been through [but] we are optimistic that we are well placed to ride out the storm”, he says.
“In the coming months we feel positive. BMComposites has been in business since 2005 and we feel we have earned the right to be trusted - trust at this time is really important for clients. With all the uncertainty, we feel clients want to choose to work with a company which is still going to be operational and someone they can trust to deliver the job.”
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