Oyster Yachts Management Makeover

By Claudine Derksen

In March 2018, Oyster Yachts announced new ownership after going into financial administration. However, entrepreneur Richard Hadida — founder of global software business Evolution Gaming Group — has brought the business back to the land of the living with the aim of securing it for the long term.

News of the sale provides a boost to the UK yacht building industry with the intention of securing over 400 highly skilled jobs in Southampton and Wroxham. The new ownership also enables the business to complete the work of on-going projects, which were subsequently interrupted during administration.

With the acquisition comes a new management team to transform Oyster Yachts. “It has been my privilege to sail an Oyster Yachts for some years,” said the new CEO of the luxury brand in March 2018. “I fell in love with Oyster, the yachts, the events and more importantly the Oyster family. My passion for the brand has driven my decision to acquire the business. The Oyster brand is central to the yachting world. I firmly believe that we must save this prestigious British yacht builder and continue to nurture and grow the Oyster Group for the long term. My investment in Oyster is not merely a hobby. Oyster needs to be a sustainable business...”

Just a few days ago the global manufacturer of luxury blue water sailing vessels announced the appointment Abigail Comber as its chief marketing officer — an integral part of the management team makeover.

Comber acted as the global head of brands and marketing at one of the largest airlines in the United Kingdom, British Airways (BA). Following a 26 year career and working within the marketing department of BA for over 15 years; Comber has rebuilt the brand’s strength to a 17-year high including four consecutive years as a “Super Brand”.

 “We are thrilled to have recruited someone of Abigail’s calibre,” comments Hadida. “This is a major coup for Oyster and is indicative of the huge potential of the Oyster brand. Abigail brings with her a phenomenal track record, vast experience of building truly leading global brands and above all, she shares our vision for the future of Oyster. We have ambitious plans for Oyster and Abigail is set to play a significant part in our future growth.”

Comber was the driving force behind the ‘Don’t Fly, Support Team GB’ television advert, commissioned by BA for their sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. This was critically acclaimed and awarded ‘Best Engagement Strategy’ at the 2013 Festival of Media Awards.

Furthering her success, Comber introduced customer programmes including ‘Buy on Board’ and ‘New Club World’, as well as new digital services for the BA app. A considerable success and track record at BA has established Comber’s reputation as one of the industry’s leading marketing professionals. Oyster Yachts hope Comber’s credibility and forward-thinking will enhance the Oyster brand as the business continues to accelerate its growth under new ownership and increase its global outreach.  

“I am really looking forward to this new challenge,” Comber comments on her exciting transition to Oyster Yachts. “Oyster is already a leading British brand and it is clear the affection the sailing community has for Oyster. The true potential of Oyster is still to be fulfilled. I firmly believe there is further scope for growth and innovation for the Oyster brand worldwide, and I cannot wait to get started.”

Oyster Yachts look forward to Comber’s start where she will readily join the team on 1 November. She will oversee Oyster’s entire branding and marketing strategy, including Oyster’s participation at the Oyster World Rally.

By Claudine Derksen
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