London Luxury Yacht Show

14.04.15

Dropping anchor with a flotilla of lavish interiors, nautical gizmos and sleek designs, it was the super-yacht industry’s time to shine at the London Luxury Yacht Show last week. James Matthews reports

Some of the biggest guns in sales and charter brokerage dropped anchor for the inaugural London Luxury Yacht, Jet and Prestige Car Show last week, including Burgess, Camper & Nicholsons International, Fraser, Cecil Wright & Partners and Berthon International to name but a few. The glitzy event played host to superyacht builders and brokers, interior designers, private jet manufacturers, luxury car makers and a host of luxury goods and service companies. For the show’s organisers, the point in bringing together so many superyacht yards and luxury service companies was the host city itself. “London is now a centre of so many things, and there are so many important clients here. Of course, London is an international transport hub so many people are passing through or are only here temporarily, but a surprising number are resident here,” explained Peter Bryant, managing director of the event.

Timing for the expo couldn’t be more perfect. Superyachts – have been slower than other sectors of the luxury goods market to bounce back from the financial meltdown in 2008. But demand from international billionaires has started to pick up over the past 18 months as sellers become more realistic on price, according to yacht makers and brokers.

Global sales of about 221 superyachts (defined as over 24 metres, or 78 feet, long) in the first half of 2014, were up by about one-third on the same period in 2013, including second-hand sales. In total over 400 new superyachts will probably be built this year. And the demand, mainly from China, Russia and America, is for ever bigger, more luxurious boats. Italy still makes about 40% of the world’s superyachts. Fincantieri, a shipbuilder near Genoa, recently launched “Victory”, one of the largest ever. This seven-decker boasts, among other essentials, six swimming-pools and a helipad with hangar.

British manufacturers don’t make the very biggest superyachts, but are still well placed to take advantage of billionaires’ love of showing off on the ocean wave. Tom Chant of Superyacht UK points out that Britain’s success in the market is not just about the number of boats going down the slipway, but about the entire marine ecosystem of lawyers, insurers, brokers and even travelling hairdressers who provide services to the superyacht industry. They contribute a good deal of that annual revenue of £492m. “Boats might be built in Italy,” adds Chant, “but the buyers will come to London to do the deal, with a British lawyer, for the speed and efficiency of the transaction, and English law.” Britain also provides plenty of training for crews; customers like the touch of class added by a sprinkling of retired Royal Navy officers teaching their crew what to do. Companies like Pendennis, based in Cornwall, do fantastic business refitting and repairing superyachts.

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