Big, beautiful Beneteau

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Plenty of room on board the new Beneteau Oceanis 51.1 launched at the Sydney International Boat Show.
Plenty of room on board the new Beneteau Oceanis 51.1 launched at the Sydney International Boat Show.

Beneteau was everywhere at SIBS 2018, reinforcing its status as the world’s most successful production boat builder.

As befits its status as one of the largest production yacht manufacturers in the world, Beneteau had a powerful presence at this year’s Sydney boat show across both sail and power.

In the sail segment, the main focus was the launch of two new Oceanis models, the Oceanis 46.1 model which had its world premiere at the show, and its larger cousin, the Oceanis 51.1, which was making its local debut. Alongside the new yachts, local dealer Flagstaff Marine also debuted the Gran Turismo 50 and Swift Trawler 35 power boats as well as the Monte Carlo 5 while, inside the hall, Chapman Marine featured new Antares and Barracuda models.

Altogether, it was an impressive line-up across power and sail – and that’s not counting the new releases from Jeanneau, also part of Groupe Beneteau, with new Sun Odyssey, Merry Fisher and Prestige models as well as the likes of Lagoon, CNB, Four Winns, Glastron, Scarab, Wellcraft etc. Maybe they should call it the Sydney International Beneteau Show (just joking!).

The company has recently reorganised its Asia-Pacific regional office based in Hong Kong and, with Paul Blanc appointed as managing director of Groupe Beneteau Asia Pacific, the company is now clearly focused on building its presence in the region.

Vianney Guézénec, Asia Pacific director for Beneteau-Lagoon, told Marine Business that the local market is making a strong comeback with dealers buying more boats in order to meet demand. While the Beneteau Oceanis range is well-known to local sailors, the company is looking to make further inroads into the power market, hence the cross-section of models on display.

“We have plenty of toys to play with,” he commented. “If you want Italian luxury style we have the Monte Carlo range, if you want something more sporty we have the Gran Turismo range, the Swift range if you want to go slower and further with family and friends, fishing with the Barracuda range, and a mix of fishing and cruising with the Antares range.”

Beneteau is able to do this, explained Guézénec, because its engineering and production capacity is large enough to work on different products and segments at the same time. Likewise, while the bigger boats attract bigger margins, Beneteau has suffcient scale to operate across a spread of smaller boat sizes (sub-50 feet) and still turn a profit.

Beyond a billion

Globally, the group is part-way through a three-year “transformation” strategy called Transform to Perform which has seen it renew 88 of its 200 models across the 10 brands. It has also launched a new catamaran brand called Excess and made further acquisitions with the addition of the Slovenian performance yacht builder, Seascape, and Polish boatyard Delphia. In 2016/17, total revenues from boat building topped the €1 billion mark, up 12%, accounting for 85% of the group’s revenue.

Beneteau joint general manager, Gianguido Girotti (left) and Vianney Guézénec, Asia Pacific director for Beneteau-Lagoon, onboard the Gran Turismo 50 which made its debut at SIBS 2018.
Beneteau joint general manager, Gianguido Girotti (left) and Vianney Guézénec, Asia Pacific director for Beneteau-Lagoon, onboard the Gran Turismo 50 which made its debut at SIBS 2018.

In an age when many illustrious boat-building names have fallen by the wayside, Beneteau is a notable story of survival and growth. The primary reason for this, according to Guézénec, is Madame Roux, the guiding force behind the company since the 1960s, as well as the fact that it is still a majority family-owned business and, as such, not subject to the vagaries of get-rich quick investors. Boat building requires a long-term vision and a commitment to bring it to fruition.

“The Groupe Beneteau is not about making the best profit, it’s about how are we going to last another 100 years. That is always what the top management has in mind when making decisions.”

The results of this approach were there for all to see at the marina and in the halls of the Sydney boat show.

This article was first published in the October-November 2018 issue of Marine Business magazine.

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