Stewart McIntyre On Capital Investment & Expansion
In June 2010, Sunseeker International welcomed a large capital investment from FL Partners after the recession rocked industries throughout the world. I spoke to Stewart McIntyre, Managing Director of Sunseeker International, to find out how the company had expanded over 2011 and what initiatives were being taken for the future.
Stewart McIntyre was appointed the Managing Director of Sunseeker International after FL Partners, owners of the Racing Post, together with a number of UK and Irish investors provided £25 million of new capital into Sunseeker last year.
Whilst talking to Mr. McIntyre, it was evident his confidence in the success of Sunseeker was inexorable and that he was more than happy to discuss the developments over 2011 and how the company planned to execute new initiatives in the coming months.
It’s been a busy year for the superyacht industry, but with a wide range of motor yachts, ranging from small to super, how has Sunseeker fared over the last year?
“Generally speaking, if you look at what’s happened throughout the world over the last twelve months, 2011 has been a very challenging environment for the industry when you consider the earthquakes in New Zealand and the tsunamis in Japan etc. however we are holding our own and our figures are on plan. We’ve got continuing doubts about particular areas such as Greece, Egypt and North Africa for example, but our yachts are still in demand across the world.”
Back in June of last year, Sunseeker International welcomed a large capital investment from the FL Partners, how have you used this to expand into 2011?
“The extra capital installed more stability in the business as a whole and we invested quite heavily in fairly robust product development programme. It will allow us to introduce a bigger motor yachts to the range i.e. 46m and beyond, and a smaller entry level 38’ boat; the 46m should be arriving at the end of 2013 and the 38’ yacht will be with us in 2012.”
You were quoted saying “[…] the new investors, together with the team at Sunseeker, is dedicated to success through innovation.” – How has Sunseeker implemented such innovations to succeed?
“We looked at the developments in the market and placed even more focus onto product & design developments. The most recent innovation is our new carbon fibre oven which we didn’t have 12 months ago and it’s allowed us to use a carbon fibre hoop into the 73 Manhattan. We’re always looking to expand and we’re very aware of potential areas for change. Other initiatives have been to install continuous improvement as well as housekeeping in a real estate infrastructure.”
During the capital investment period, Sunseeker International gained a few new influential board members, and you of course became Managing Director. How did the new structure change the direction of the company over the last year?
“Well the structure didn’t change our direction. We had an agreed three year plan where we would focus on product development and producing new yachts but it has allowed us to make improvements in our corporate process. There’s no question, we’ve grown rapidly from 2006-2011, and it was clear that our management processes required further enhancement. We’re still keeping up with the demand we get from such a mix of clients across the entire motor yacht range.”
Being an international company, focus obviously can not be put on to one area. The superyacht industry is currently cultivating new and emerging markets – how has Sunseeker China being dealing with potential regional growth?
“We’re seeing strong growth from there. We were awarded the ‘Best Brand Presence Award’ at the Asia Boating Awards, which agreeably seems a little bit embryonic but Hainan was very successful for us and we got a lot of enquiries off the back of that. We’re currently looking to expand our offices in the Asian region.
I don’t really like the term ‘emerging market’, the way I see it is that they have already emerged and so has Brazil and even places like South Korea. We’re doing all the things we need to such as going to boat shows, advertising and through that we’re seeing more activity throughout the entire product range.
The issues with emerging markets is that there is a lot of fiscal regimes, such as taxation and import issues which are very closely monitored and on the other side of the spectrum you have the backlash of the Tsunami in Japan which has highlighted problems in the supply chain. Superyachts are very complicated products and with a disruption of supply can be an issue.”
As a yacht builder, trends within in the market can sometimes be a little more tangible regarding the size of yachts being purchased. Have yacht requests begun to step into the larger sizes or has the smaller, motor yacht region been prevailing?
“There is very strong demand for the proposed 38 foot boat and equally strong demand for all the other ranges we carry. It is difficult to say but the 48, 53, 63 & 73 vessels is where demand is remarkably strong. Boats over 100 foot obviously take longer to build but our order book is very encouraging and we are in dialogue with a significant number of clients on yachts of 40m and above.”
Finally, does Sunseeker have any news or exciting projects on the horizon we should be looking out for?
“We have been very active with Sunseeker London in expanding our marketing initiatives which recently involved one of our boats being on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and we as the manufacturer are one of the sponsors of the 2011 Irish Open Golf Tournament. In addition to the upcoming Cannes, Southampton, Monaco, Genoa, Mandurah, Fort Lauderdale and Barcelona Boat Shows, we clearly have the London 2012 Olympics approaching, and we are considering some interesting initiatives for this unique event.”
"The extra capital installed more stability in the business as a whole and we have invested heavily in fairly robust product development programme. It’s also allowed us to introduce a bigger motor yachts to the range i.e. 46m and beyond, and a smaller entry level 38’ boat; the 46m should be arriving at the end of 2013 and the 38’ yacht will be with us in 2012."