12 Jul 2013

YACHTS: Max Whale

Marketing Director of Princess Motor Yacht Sales (for Brummell
“Boating is one of the most liberating, individual experiences. To people spending their money on six star hotels, I say: don’t do that, do this! Taking to the water appeals to the free human spirit; you don’t feel governed aboard a boat. You’re your own boss.
“I want to bring a new audience to boating by making owning a yacht safe, stress-free and exciting. For example, three hours after receiving a phone call made at sea, a Princess representative will meet you, having booked your berth, then advise on where to refuel and which restaurant to eat at. We’ve arranged berthing in St Tropez, organised a personal shopper in Palma, and even flown dogs between vessels.
“We also arrange crew. We’ll put three equally qualified candidates in front of you, and you choose the personality. We can arrange charter of your yacht too. The biggest this year was 72m, costing €600k/week. 
“We’ve got direct contact with the excellent playground which is our marketplace. If you go to the Balearics, you see a Princess Motor Yachts sales office on Ibiza, Menorca, and Puerto Portals Majorca, where we’re opening a second brand new office in Port Adriano, a multi-million pound marina by Phillipe Starck. You’ll see our office at Puerto Banús on the Spanish mainland, and two offices in Turkey, Istanbul and Bodrum. Blue-water cruising there is a real growth area. It’s stunning and bohemian, where rickety floats sell the fish of the day. We’re also in Switzerland, North Germany and Portugal, not forgetting offices in London, the rest of the UK, Ireland and Jersey. 
“Princess Motor Yacht Sales began in 1964 and today, we’re the largest dealer and distributor for the complete range of Princess luxury boats. Historically, my family have been BMW, Rolls Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Porsche dealers, but my grandfather, then father were essentially Princess customers for many years. To reel it off dead quick, our history of ownership goes: Princess 37ft, 38ft, 41ft, 45ft, 55ft, 65ft, 22m, followed by buying the company in 2008! And we still boat on a Princess. Our V78 sports cruiser is called ‘Ruby Tuesday’ because my brother’s daughter, Ruby, was born when it launched (and we’re Stones fans!) She cruises the Balearics. 
“We’re building lighter, stronger boats, faster than the competition. And we won’t be beaten on price. We don’t believe brand value, hand craftsmanship, choice, and “tailor-made” has to have a “reassuringly expensive” price tag. The 2012 production of the new V39 sold out in three months, offering such fantastic value against its rivals that Motor Boats Monthly said: ‘it feels like a scaled-down million pound super-yacht...’ Even in 2012, with the national debt crisis emerging, it rocketed along. The buyer might be a plumber who started as a sole trader and now has 10 plumbers under him. In 20-years, that guy could be buying the new 50m yacht. 
“Princess boats are contemporary and elegant because we believe in evolution, not revolution – something which stands us apart from other UK builders. Our latest super-yacht is the tri-deck 40m, costing around £14m. We sold the first one, delivering it to the client in June. Like most of our boats, it’s moulded using technology called resin infusion, pioneered in the aerospace industry. It’s a process we’ve been at the forefront of for five years. Glass fibres are packed really hard together meaning there’s very little resin leading to strength and extra lightness. 
“Princess build bespoke furniture in-house and fit to the boat. We don’t lose time assembling everything in a boat like other boat builders. When it comes to our finishes, it really is anything goes; we just need time to get it organised. Customers are shown rolls of fabric. You can’t do that electronically. You’ll see it in the luxury car world today, where you touch leathers and personalise interiors. But we’ve been doing that in the yacht world for years. Now that the LVMH group owns Princess, we can go further, offering a complete Fendi interior, for example. 
“We will look to sell in the region of 70 new boats this year (new sales account for 90% of turnover). No one understands a Princess like us. We’re driven massively by customer care, and repeat business saw us through the difficult years of 2008-2012. Historically, we’ve not been good at getting our message out there and being seen with the right faces. Now’s the time for that to change...”