Sheikh will meet chic as Gulf Craft, the UAE’s only maker of superyachts, exhibits one of its US$6 million Majesty 105s at the Monaco Yacht Show, which starts today.
Two weeks ago, the Gulf-based manufacturer was displaying its wares at the neighbouring Cannes boat show, where it debuted its Majest 105 model, with an eye on how the world’s wealthy were feeling about splashing out.
“It’s a barometer for how the consumer confidence is today.” said Erwin Bamps, the chief operating officer of Gulf Craft. “We had some worries on the first two days of the show because there weren’t too many people there, but then the third day it started picking up and a lot more people were participating and we found an interested crowd for the rest of the week.”
A superyacht is classified as being at least 101ft in length.
It is an important period for Gulf Craft as the ripples of the global financial crisis are still rocking the boat-building world – in 2009-10 boat sales in Europe dropped 70 per cent. However, the company insulated itself against the squalls by looking higher up the value chain.
“We focused more and more on bigger yachts and that is where we saw the growth,” said Mr Bamps. “We have never sold as many superyachts as over the past four years. That interest in the market has continued. Whoever had the money to buy a $6m yacht had that money and still had that money. In the last 12 months globally there have been 200 superyachts produced and delivered. We have delivered seven out of those; that is not a massive market share but it is far more than we used to do by double.”
This week it launched its latest Majesty 135 model, which costs upwards of $16m. Earlier this year Gulf Craft said it was building a 155ft superyacht slated for completion in 2015. This is 20ft longer than its current longest model.
Gulf Craft said recently it was looking at an IPO, after an attempt in 2006, and is working towards that aim over the next couple of years.
“Our company is being reshaped into a technology company,” said Mr Bamps “In the past we were seen as a company that could put a boat together in an artisanal way. Now we are testing the limits of engineering, construction and corporate governance. We are rethinking everything we do from design, style and assembly.
“We have a huge growth potential regionally but also globally. We have always wanted to make boat- owning democratic and the smallest boats we sell with the engines are below the Dh200,000 mark, so everybody who can afford a decent car can afford a boat.”