UK yacht-builder says its order book extends as far as 2021

The UK’s Sunseeker International is said to be on plan for the current financial year. Sean Robertson, Sunseeker’s sales and marketing director, told IBI at boot Düsseldorf that the company is “lining up for a good, clear profit year”.

He explained that the current Sunseeker order book comprises 160 craft worth £500m-plus in retail terms, which is a 40% rise on the previous year. Dependent on the specific model, the order book extends as far as 2021. “The build slots for 2019 are around 75% full and 30% for 2020,” Robertson added.

A number of model lines are at full capacity for this year. To cope with this, there is ongoing investment in both the Sunseeker Poole and Portland facilities. Robertson explained that there is space at Poole to further expand the shipyard facility to cope with the expanding order book.

“Our Chinese shareholder, Dalian Wanda, continues to support our ongoing investment plans,” Robertson added. “We are at the end of our first five-year strategic plan and the second is evolving and we will be going to China to complete this. This plan will include investment for facilities, which products to develop and other areas.”

Wanda previously provided £50m as part of a three-year investment programme. “Having a shareholder like Wanda pleases HSBC, who we bank with in the UK,” Robertson commented.

Alongside the core yacht building activities, Sunseeker’s newer projects with Red Bull and ICON that have taken the company into smaller and larger yachts are progressing well.

“With the 161 at ICON we have two strong clients and we are working on sorting out specifications,” Robertson commented. “We certainly chose the right partner and the project is moving ahead with completion set for 2021.”

He indicated that other models would follow but no specific sizes are in mind at present. ICON can build up to 80m (262ft) or more.

As to new model launches, Robertson indicated that 2019 will be a slower year with three models planned for 2020 and two model revamps planned. “We have launched 12 new models over the last three years and 90% of the model range is less than three years old,” he said.

At boot Düsseldorf, Sunseeker unveiled news of the future 8X model.

Robertson explained that with the appointment of Christian Marti as the new CEO and Andrea Frabetti as the new chief technical officer, plus a new CFO some time ago, the management team is complete.

In terms of the Sunseeker workforce, this now numbers over 2,600 and includes 120 apprentices with 40 new ones being appointed each year. “The big difficulty,” said Robertson,” is getting the right people. We have an aggressive employee recruitment programme including the apprentices.”

In respect of sales, Europe accounts for some 45%, the Americas 35-40%, and the rest of the world including the Middle East and Asia Pacific, making up the difference. With regards to the dealer network, there have been recent changes in Vancouver, Canada and Singapore while some strengthening in the US is ongoing.