Xavier Fabre and Boum Senous don’t call themselves disruptors, but Yacht Sourcing certainly does things differently from other yacht services companies in Asia. For a start, the company they started in Bali in 2016 has its own shipyard in Sulawesi that builds phinisis and other wooden boats.
Yacht Sourcing even has a marina consultancy division. The company also offers the services that most competitors do, such as new yacht sales, brokerage and charter, as well as superyacht management and agency services.
As such, Yacht Sourcing – Ferretti Group’s dealer in Indonesia – is arguably growing faster than any other pleasure boating company in the region, boosted by the launch of the 55m Prana by Atzaro in mid-2018.
Yacht Sourcing not only built the nine-cabin phinisi but is also its central agency (CA) for charter, and manages the yacht and its crew for Atzaro. Prana’s overwhelming popularity and its global publicity have raised Yacht Sourcing’s profile and proved a strong symbol of the company’s new-build and charter expertise.
“Prana was a game changer for us, definitely, even if I think we did other things before that which were also very nice. For now, boatbuilding is our leading business division, followed by a fair amount of charter sales and charter operation,” says Senous, the company’s Director of Operations.
“With the offices, technical staff, shipbuilding site and crew members of all the boats – although they’re not directly our crew, we take care of them as if they were and manage their salary – we now have about 200 people on our payroll.
“We’re looking to double this in the next three years,” adds the fast-talking Belgian. And he’s not even the salesman among the pair.
THE SALESMAN AND THE BUILDER
Fabre, based in Indonesia since 2009, is Director of Sales and the man who pushed to start the company. The Frenchman’s earlier roles in the world’s fourth most populous nation included Country Manager for Simpson Marine and then head of the country’s Azimut dealership.
After a first meeting in Bali, the pair first talked properly at an Indonesia Yacht Show while Senous was busy building Alexa, an exclusive 31m, single-cabin phinisi that’s among Yacht Sourcing’s list of charter boats.
Although wooden boats and luxurious Italian-designed motor yachts look worlds apart, both attract a similarly well-heeled clientele. Fabre saw a business opportunity.
“On my side, I had a lot of demand from people for wooden boats, but I was like, ‘No, wrong choice’, because I had to promote the luxury motor yachts I was selling. But in the end, I realised so many people wanted wooden boats and Boum was the expert in Indonesia.”
Several years and many conversations later, Senous was convinced.
“Xavier always had the vision. He knew the market would open up in Indonesia and that there was a lot to be done. He said if we get ourselves ready for when the market grows, we’d have a lot of opportunity,” says Senous.
“At the time, I was not really excited about moving back to a land job as I was still enjoying my life at sea, but I realised I had to trust him. The decision was made over a lunch.”
Although possessing different business skill sets today, the pair have a similar background, both growing up as avid sailors and enjoying watersports, and expanding their horizons while cruising around the world.
Fabre, whose father was a marine engineer in a shipyard in Normandy, had spent significant time in both Dubai and Mauritius – where he even coached the national sailing team – before settling down in Indonesia.
Senous, who speaks several Indonesian dialects as well as French and English, hints at an early life on the wrong side of the tracks, using sailing as both an escape and a tool to help others.
“I started to sail when I was very young and did a lot of volunteering in France and Belgium, fitting out boats for associations that taught kids from bad neighbourhoods how to sail. Since I also came from that background, they were happy for me to act as a role model,” he says.
“I then travelled around the world on sailing boats and didn’t want to do anything else but work on the sea. Soon after I arrived in Indonesia, I worked on smaller boats then started to visit Bira [Sulawesi] and learn how to build wooden boats. It became a passion and it still is now. It’s like we found each other.”
His passion for his craft remains evident today and he believes it has helped shape the company’s success so far.
“We love what we’re doing and this why we’re good at it,” Senous continues. “I really care about every boat I do. That’s probably the signature of Yacht Sourcing and why we’ve reached where we are. We don’t build the same boat twice. We’ve thought a lot about each boat we do and each has its own soul.”
LUXURY MADE IN ITALY
In 2017, Fabre brought the Ferretti Group to the table as Yacht Sourcing was appointed the exclusive dealer for Ferretti Yachts, Pershing and Riva. To celebrate and publicise the new appointment, Yacht Sourcing went on to host elegant parties in Bali and its then-new Jakarta office in Pantai Mutiara.
The following year, the launch of Prana further established Yacht Sourcing as a company to be reckoned with, especially as the phinisi went on to become a charter sensation with clients from around the world, even hosting Kim Kardashian and her sisters in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, aired in April 2019.
Senous says that as well as building the boat, Yacht Sourcing also had input on the design, citing one key example.
“For example, there were spaces originally designated for laundry and the cruise director, which we said should be used as high-class, luxury cabins. That’s why the yacht has nine cabins, one of Prana’s selling points,” he says.
“It’s like the boat we’re building now. First, we try to anticipate what the market wants, while being a bit different in the way of building, especially in terms of sustainability as we’re really sensitive to this. Clients are not only buying a boat from us; they’re buying our time and expertise and ideas.”
Prana kick-started a whirlwind 18 months for Yacht Sourcing including a move into marina design and development that started with plans for the Escape Marina Resort in the island of Flores, leading the company to later open a third office, in Labuan Bajo.
The company started a hectic 2019 in celebratory style when its charter division, Voyage by Yacht Sourcing, won Best Asia-Based Charter Company (Phinisi) at the second Christofle Yacht Style Awards in Phuket.
In April, the company announced it had secured the Indonesia dealership for Fountaine Pajot, supporting the French catamaran builder as it staged its biggest-ever presence at the Singapore Yacht Show with the Alegria 67 and the Asia premiere of the MY40 powercat.
In May, Yacht Sourcing announced its expansion to Thailand with Nicolas Monges as General Manager of the new company and also a partner. The Frenchman soon secured the CA charter listings for the 90ft wooden motor boat Maha Bhetra, Azimut 80 Mirage and 94ft Taiwan-built Lady Eileen II.
In October, Yacht Sourcing opened its Thailand office in Royal Phuket Marina and the following month displayed its trio of CAs at the first Thailand Charter Week at Phuket Yacht Haven, where the company was one of the biggest exhibitors and used all three of its boats to stage the event’s most memorable party.
“It has been a super good start in Thailand,” Fabre says. “We’ve had some nice central agency charter listings and we’re also going to move into yacht operations.”
Over in Indonesia, the departure of its neighbouring tenant in Bali allowed Yacht Sourcing to double the size of its headquarters. The company also relocated its Jakarta office to the exclusive BCA Tower in Grand Indonesia, to be closer to clients with offices in the city centre.
MAJOR STEPS AHEAD
One of the company’s key clients is The Maj Group, which has signed on to back the Escape Marina project, with Yacht Sourcing discussing other potential marina projects in Indonesia and also Thailand. The Maj Group is also the owner of The Maj Oceanic, the 47m phinisi built by Yacht Sourcing that splashed in November.
In Sulawesi, ongoing builds include a 50m yacht that Senous describes as a “phinisi-schooner fusion; it’s a proper sailing boat with a very specific interior that will make it one of a kind”.
But Senous is even more excited about some designs he’s working on that include “a game changer, a worldwide reference that’s going to disrupt the yacht industry for wooden boats”.
Fabre, meanwhile, is motivated about the upcoming opportunities for Ferretti Group, believing that Indonesia is on the cusp of a new wave of luxury yacht arrivals once marinas under construction finally open for operation.
“After recent meetings with Ferretti Group, we now have a strong new strategy for Indonesia. We’re changing a lot of things in marketing and we’re going to introduce trade-in options to make sure we penetrate the market properly,” says Fabre.
“We need infrastructure for the next generation of production boats here and the first step will be the opening of Escape, then the Kura Kura marina in Bali with nearly 200 berths. For now, there’s nowhere nice enough with shore power to keep boats like Rivas, Ferrettis and Pershings, but it’s going to come and there will be a big boom with the first proper marinas in Indonesia.”
Even though most of its current business divisions are doing well or looking up, Yacht Sourcing is currently in no rush to expand into new countries.
“Yes, we’re looking, but it’s all about opportunity, the people we meet,” Fabre says. “We entered Thailand because we knew Nico had the potential to do very well there. We’re always looking at future opportunities in new countries, but it depends on partnerships.”
If the co-founders do have a concern, it’s staying on top of a business that’s growing as fast as they want it to but maybe too fast for them to handle on their own – especially if they plan to double their payroll within three years.
As such, they’re lining up a general manager to bring in the organisation and business practices suited to the company’s size, and allow Fabre and Senous to focus on what they do best.
“I think we’re one of the most professional [yachting] companies in Indonesia, but we want to go to the next level,” Senous says. “After all, if you compare this region to Florida or the Caribbean, there’s still a lot more to come.”
The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 51. Email [email protected] for print subscription enquiries or subscribe to the Magzter version at: www.magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/
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