The Ferretti Group yesterday revealed its latest financial numbers at Garage Italia in Milan. The company reported a consolidated production value of €623m for fiscal 2017, up 10.8% compared to the same period a year ago. Its EBITDA rose 11.3% to €59m for the year. Net income was €24m, up 71% compared to the same period a year ago.

The company said that fiscal 2016 was its first profitable year since 2008 and last year’s results confirms the “solidity” of the group. Ferretti’s total assets were €971m. The Group expects its production value to rise to €704m in 2018.

Alberto Galassi, speaking in an exclusive interview with IBI, said the strong financial results reflect the commitment and hard work of the Ferretti Group over the past four years. Galassi took over as Ferretti CEO in May 2014. “Companies are made of people and we completely changed the management structure, going from 16 front-line managers of our different brands to seven,” he said. “In 2014, the fleet was also ageing. We didn’t have the luxury of time, so our main priority was to invest in a completely new line of models.”

Galassi went to the owners of the company, the Weichai Group, and requested funds for R&D and three years to break even. The plan was to launch 24 models in three years. “They gave us €110m and €50m of that was to invest in new models,” says Galassi. “That was a very brave move because it was all or nothing. They also gave us the freedom to change management and time to repair our infrastructure.”

Three years later, 70% of the Group’s new-boat sales are from new models. Galassi expects that number to be 80% for fiscal year 2018.

The Ferretti chief says that the market is now positive for most yacht builders, but that Ferretti had the right models to sell as the market returned. “We were lucky but we were also smart,” he says, adding that the Ferretti Group is now a very different organisation. “I tend to hire people who are better than me and we now have a very international group,” he says.

Last year’s profits will be reinvested in new product development, according to Galassi, and new launches will continue at an “aggressive” pace. Ferretti is looking at an acquisition in near term, since production at its five yards are at maximum capacity. Galassi would not name the target because negotiations are under way, but said the acquisition could include an existing yacht brand and shipyard, or the shipyard could be purchased separately from the brand.

Of the Ferretti brands, Custom Line and Riva Yachts are the strongest performers in sales. Its superyacht brand, CRN, also continues to be “busy” with three new builds, including a 77m and 66m build. “CRN is a jewel in our crown and a completely different market for us,” says Galassi. “It’s a market where we won’t go beyond 80m or 3,0000 GT simply because of fine Dutch, German and Italian competition. We are humble enough to know where our limits are in this segment.”

For 2018, the Group plans to recruit 80 more staff in all five shipyards. “The recruitment will focus in particular on the Ancona shipyard,” says Galassi. “That’s where we’re building our large CRN, Riva, Pershing and Custom Line yachts.”

Ferretti's CEO said there will be “increasingly surprising positive results,” as the company moves forward. Its next forward-looking plan will be released at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September.

Ferretti's announcement is the first in a series of anticipated positive reports to come from the industry's leading international boatbuilders, with initial 2017 results from Princess Yachts to be posted tomorrow.