Simpson Marine’s clout in the yachting industry is nothing short of fantastic. Currently, it has gears set on high to push sales for Sanlorenzo, Monte Carlo Yachts, Lagoon, Beneteau and Aquila across the world. Inevitably, the group has proven its mettle to fearlessly tackle the business challenges with grace, integrity and efficiency in different parts of the world; and its horizons looks limitless.
How has Simpson Marine performed over the past 12 months? We have seen a strong and impressive push on the sales of Sanlorenzo yachts across Asia, tell us more?
Simpson Marine has done really well over the past 12 months, especially in our strategic change and welcoming of Sanlorenzo and Monte Carlo Yachts on board three years ago. We have seen strong interest in Sanlorenzo yachts and superyachts thanks to their bespoke quality and tailor-made approach, much appreciated by demanding Asian buyers. Sanlorenzo has seen remarkable success since we took the dealership of their brand, and we have sold several superyachts over 40m, along with their smaller range of composite yachts. We eagerly await an exciting 31-metre project, that we have sold to Singapore, premiering at the upcoming 2018 Cannes Yachting Festival — a true revolution in yacht design. Back to the superyacht side, we are currently in talks on superyachts up to 70m so having Sanlorenzo as our superyacht brand definitely makes us stronger.
Monte Carlo Yachts have also been very popular in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, with a recent MCY96 sale, due to arrive in Asia late Summer 2018. Monte Carlo Yachts are indeed a dynamic offering for Asian customers looking for distinctive yachts of character. Visitors to MCY in Montfalcone, near Trieste, Italy, are treated to an unforgettable experience at the shipyard, and meet the brand’s creators – Nuvolari Lenard design studio.
As with every year, Lagoon catamarans remain in strong demand with their spacious and family-friendly vessels ranging from 40 to 78 feet. Their regular innovations across the range and the recent introduction of bigger yacht projects such as the Seventy 7 and Seventy 8 have given Lagoon a new perception, of a luxury yacht or superyacht builder. We sell Lagoons both for private and charter plans, and we manage them through Simpson Yacht Charter. We recently presented a new Lagoon 50 at Singapore Yacht Show, where she immediately sold on the first day; that’s our Lagoon story in a nutshell.
Beneteau sailboats are unbeatable, we are privileged to work with Beneteau Group for the past 30 plus years with their fantastic dedication to the Asian market. They are well established Asia Pacific with a regional office in Hong Kong, and their understanding of the local market is very good. Each year Beneteau brings many practical features to their three ranges, making sailing easier and more affordable to all.
Beneteau Power range is on the rise too, with their recently redesigned Gran Turismo motoryachts, of which we have sold quite a few in Southeast Asia, their practical and easy-to-operate Swift Trawler range, with a fair success in Hong Kong and China, and several smaller yachts such as the Barracuda and Antares, are all good options for new owners wanting to access boating in an easy and simple manner.
Sport fishing is gaining momentum in Asia and with the full lineup of Viking Yachts in various styles in 37 to 92-foot sizes, we have several options for customers looking to practice their fishing passion in a luxurious environment of a seaworthy Viking yacht.
And finally, we have recently added Aquila Power Catamarans to our brand portfolio. We think Aquila has a lot of potential in Asia, as they are remarkably spacious, well-built and have many clever features; we have already registered a few sales, even though we only started working together in January 2018, at Phuket Rendezvous.
The Beneteau Group has been a strong partner of Simpson Marine for many years. The latest developments of the Lagoon range seem to be enjoying a true success across the region. How do you explain the success of the catamaran segment on the yachting market?
The rise of popularity in the catamaran market is undeniable. We are amazed at observing the annual production capacity of Lagoon catamarans set to rise from 300 to 400 units a year. That is unheard of in the industry. They are by far world number one and will surely remain due to their strong technical background and tight relationship with Van Pethegem Lauriot Prevost who are Naval Architects for all the range and have actively introduced new models, upgrades and innovations. They have also partnered with Nauta Design for interior design and maintain a direct connection to Custom Yacht builder CNB that brought the Seventy series to the next level. At Simpson Marine, Lagoon is certainly our best seller, as their quality price ratio are very competitive, their internal and external spaces are best in class, they are seaworthy and proven well as circumnavigation vessels too. Their resale value is good and they sell in no time in Asia. Finally, we offer also our Yacht Management programme for Lagoon catamarans for charter in Thailand and South East Asia and that is a big attraction to those seeking return on investment.
You have just added the Aquila brand to the shipyards you represent in Asia. Why such a move, and how uniquely positioned are the Aquila catamarans?
Taking on Aquila catamarans was a very important move for us as Lagoon did not offer smaller power catamarans in range 30 to 50-foot and we thought the market has matured to understand this concept. Power catamarans have all advantages of sail catamarans, and in addition, are easier to maneuver for a power boater who previously had no sailing experience. Aquila is a very well-designed American brand built in Hanghzou, China by Sino Eagle Yachts, a world leader in high-tech marine composite structures supplying Olympic rowing boats. These boats are full of clever innovations and the full-beam master cabin on the Aquila 44 is simply outstanding. The series of luxury day catamarans with Aquila 30-36 are also a very innovative offering and we have sold a few of these, mainly for the charter market.
The Simpson Marina group was one of the biggest winners at the recent CHRISTOFLE YACHT STYLE AWARDS held this January 2018 in Phuket. Is this the result of an aggressive marketing strategy across Asia or of a committed team of experienced yacht brokers?
We would like to believe that this is the result of Simpson Marine’s success this year, and in the past years, which is attributed to the firm’s high reputation, integrity and honesty, and my team of yacht brokers working hard to ensure customer satisfaction, and as a result, strong customer retention. We have indeed a high-repeat customer ratio due to our collective strong work ethics, and a vast array of yacht types and sizes that each customer can choose from. This multi-brand approach allows us to cater to a wide group of buyers and allow them to select the most suitable boat for their various respective stages of life. We hope to assist our customers growing in their selections across their whole yacht journey and progressively keep serving their families and children as well.
On the other hand, it is indeed true that we have some of the best yacht brokers in Asia with extensive sailing and cruising experience, knowing all the useful tips for one’s yachting lifestyle to be successful, always well prepared to attend customers’ needs. Therefore, we think we have it all at Simpson Marine to make us successful for at least another 35 years in the business, with expansion plans underway to even more parts of Asia like Vietnam and the Philippines.
What about the plans for Simpson Marine across the next 18 months? Exploring new emerging markets such as Taiwan and Vietnam?
We are currently based in seven countries in Asia: Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, with expansion plans for the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. We already have some footprint in these countries with yachts sold to owners there and enquiries coming through on a regular basis, so establishing offices there will be a natural step for us. We are sometimes asked to open offices in Australia, but I believe that Asia offers enough exciting challenges for us. In terms of expansion, we also aim to expand our offerings with further reinforcement of our charter, service and superyacht divisions, to keep serving customers ever better and in a broader scope.
Indonesia has huge potential as a cruising destination. Yet marina infrastructures are of major concern. What has been Simpson Marine findings and performances in Indonesia over the past 4 years you have been operating there?
Indonesia offers a lot of potential. We are planning offices in Jakarta and Bali and relocating our SEA Manager, Paul Whelan there as Indonesia Country Sales Manager. We have sold several Lagoon catamarans and large yachts to Indonesian owners, who keep them in between Indonesia and Singapore, with the latter a good option especially for larger yachts requiring more adapted marinas and proper servicing. With over 17,000 islands and abundance of rare exotic marine life, this large archipelago nation is a wonderful playground for yachts. Chartering could open up in the region but regulations are now very unfriendly, where an Indonesian flag in required to charter, implying a tax of nearly 90%. However, private foreign flagged yachts can visit the islands and admission procedures are quick and easy, so that is a plus. Let’s see what the future brings. At Simpson Marine we are more than fully dedicated to see the growth of this market.
Simpson Marine has been an active player on the China yachting market since the mid-2000. What have been the latest trends on this market? Do you see yachting hubs emerging such as Qingdao, Hainan, the Pearl River Delta?
Our commitment to the China market has been strong since our cooperation with China Cup and Beneteau in 2006, supplying them with 30 units of Beneteau First 40.7 to start the class. It has been 11 editions ever since and the CCIR (China Cup International Regatta) counted over 200 boats last year. We consider ourselves a part of this success together with Beneteau. We have opened offices in Shenzhen and Sanya in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and we have been selling yachts in China with success until the past two years where a major economic turnaround in luxury spending resulted in a new policy instituted by the new government. Large yachts sales have dropped, or shall we say relocated to Hong Kong, while smaller powerboat and sailing boat markets have grown, where Beneteau power and sail boat ranges are also filling the gap.
Among the biggest problem is a 43.65% import tax in China that can put off any buyer. We do hope this will change soon as the whole industry is advocating for it. The Greater Bay Area in Southern China shows a lot of potential to yachts visiting Hong Kong from Macau and the Guangdong province. This interconnected Pearl River Delta region in Southern China is meant to create a true Southern business hub, with announced tax-free cruising areas for yachts. We are waiting eagerly to see the realisation of this long-term plan. The region with the most potential is Hainan with tropical Sanya, designated by the Chinese government to have friendlier regulations and tax regimes for charter programmes, as well as operational marinas and refit facilities, and a local government dedicated to this sector.
If you were to name one mentor that has influenced you across your career, who would that be?
As for most of us at Simpson Marine – Mike Simpson, most definitely!