The executive chairman of Princess Yachts, Antony Sheriff, and marketing director Kiran Haslam, spent some time with IBI during the Dubai International Boat Show this week to give an update on its global and Middle East business and reveal details of its new R Class range to be launched later this year.

Haslam was very positive about the recent sales performance globally. “We had extremely good results in the United States at the Fort Lauderdale boat show, resulting in a total order figure of 41 boats in January – well above budget,” he said. “The European market is also doing well which adds up to a record order book, currently over one billion in US$ terms and most importantly, profitability is back. Our production plan is for 290 yachts in 2018.”

Talking about the Middle East, Haslam said: “We are fortunate in having a loyal and committed dealer network in the region. A good example is Princess Yachts Middle East, headed by Mohamad Chehab, based in Lebanon with a network throughout the GCC. Whilst the market in Dubai is slightly slow, the region still represents a sizable 11% of our global sales, which can be compared to SE Asia, which is slightly more at 15%. The lower pound in 2017 has helped, although we had to increase prices due to the higher costs of material that we have to import into the UK. The net result, however, is a price advantage of some 5-10%, depending on which market we are selling to.”

Executive chairman Sheriff confirmed that the new R Class, a new 35ft 100% carbonfibre fast boat, is in the final stage of development before going into production with a planned release at the 2018 Cannes Yachting Festival in September. “Although it is quite a departure from the traditional image of Princess, we wanted to do the project because it’s exciting and will help us develop new technology that we can prove and extend into our larger models,” he said. “It is radical in using an ‘Active Foil system’ that will allow the boat to offer high performance and good operating economy.

“We have some orders already and this tells us we are reaching a completely new market segment of people who may never have thought of buying a Princess before. Propulsion will be by twin Volvo petrol V8 engines. Pricing will in the region of £500,000.”