Shipyard slots, no gamble at all


There has been much talk in the industry about the dizzying demand for superyachts in almost every global market. One lawyer Superyacht Investor (SYI) spoke to recently even toyed with the idea that a speculative slot market, like that of the early ‘00s, could come into play on the new build side given the demand for yachting.

However, for Amels and Damen Yachting the refit market is really the one to watch in 2021. With fleets on the increase and the number of new builds rising, the natural result of such a market peak will be to move to refit. Logically it is the simplest way for owners to bridge a gap in new build delivery slots or as a point of entry to market.

Sarah Flavell, media spokesperson, Amels and Damen Yachting, tells SYI: “There will also be the practical consequence of a larger number of yachts requiring the essential refit scope of works such as a surveys and maintenance. And where previously yachts used to go to the Mediterranean for maintenance and refit, we are seeing a trend in customers becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to providing service and customer care. We see a shift to the origin of the product with the customer tending to go back to the yard where the yacht was originally built.”

Amels and Damen currently has two vessels in-build, a yacht support and a 74m Amels. With interest so high at present, Flavell expects to sell the yachts imminently “due to the limited availability of new builds”. The Dutch builder does have one slot available for a full custom if the project’s timing works well with their current builds and there are some slots available for refit.

Projects in build last year at Amels and Damen Yachting’s Vlissingen-based facility.

Why are we seeing this increase in demand? Amels and Damen has sold a record number of yachts in 2021, Flavell says: “I think that for many superyacht clients, the last 12-18 months has helped focus what is important to them and this has led to a swifter decision-making process and the knock-on effect of that is increased activity.”

Flavell continues: “In the last 18 months we sold eight new build projects across our complete portfolio as well as a number of refits. In fact, due to the demand we have been extremely busy at the yard and we really have to thank the production and project teams as well as our subcontractors, owners’ teams and crews – both at the yard and remotely –  for keeping everything on track. And the busy times are not over yet – we are seeing the demand continue.”

Whilst new market entrants looking to ‘isolate’ and escape from a global pandemic have been talked about widely for their purchase of superyachts, Flavell notes that a significant proportion of buyers are making the move because their wealth has increased.

The number of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI), with investable assets of more than $30m, around the world has definitely increased. Forbes data shows 493 “new billionaires” around the world in 2021, and Wealth-X data shows the global UNHW population grew by 1.7% in 2020 to nearly 300,000 individuals.

Flavell says: “Those who may have been looking for some time are no longer holding back or waiting. This could stem from a desire for clients to take their own isolation or freedom (whichever way you look at it) into their own hands – a superyacht is the ideal solution for that. There are, of course, clients who have simply experienced significant financial gain in the last 18 months and as a result, are in a position to buy.”

Whilst it remains too early to see the increase in yachts on the water as a result of the heightened demand, VesselsValue, head of Superyachts, Sam Tucker tells SYI: “Its undeniable that demand has been increasing for both newbuilds and secondhand vessels in the superyacht market.”

“The number of yachts on the water, however, has remained relatively stable. These assets take many years to build so the supply of new vessels is somewhat constrained. For the builders, this must be frustrating given that they are unable to immediately satisfy the increased demand.”

“Perversely, the number of new vessels delivered since the start of the pandemic has actually decreased vs the long-term average. This is because of supply chain distortions and the decreased efficiency of labour due to covid-mandated social distancing, isolating workforces, and other state-imposed restrictions on social contact,” explains Tucker.

On the order book side, strong sales figures have been the backdrop to 2021 so far. Ferretti Group is set to launch a range of new superyachts following a strong performance in the first half (H1) of 2021. The value of Ferretti’s order book last year reached €611m, but in H1 2021 sales have already reached €457m. Whilst order intake for H1 2021 has already climbed to 493 vessels of all sizes across the group.

In the UK, Plymouth-based Princess Yachts have made a record-breaking start to 2021 reporting a $1bn order book. Princess, CEO, Antony Sheriff said retail sales by value are by far the highest in history of the company, with just shy of 300 boats sold this year. Also, every production slot has been filled for this year, 94% of 2022, as well as 43% of 2023’s capacity.

Amels and Damen confirmed it would not be offering slots for speculative developments. However, with demand as high as it is right now, and refitted yachts in just as short supply, surely any project would be snapped up well before completion?

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