Quick Q&A: Mike Simpson on the Asian market boom

Written by Laura Nicholls

Having been based in Asia for nearly four decades, Simpson Marine has been well-positioned to benefit from the region’s growing superyacht market. The firm recently reported that they saw sales worth over $200 million of 112 new and pre-owned yachts in 2020 to what was said to include an “impressive number” of first-time yacht owners.

Company founder Mike Simpson oversees Simpson Marine’s network of 11 regional offices and has witnessed how, as a consequence of the pandemic, Asian clients explored their local shores in search of freedom. Here, with Mike Simpson reporting from the frontline in Asia, Superyacht Times finds out more about the company’s recent successes and what’s to come. Mike SimpsonWhat do you think is the appeal of exploration in Asia?

A lot of people view explorer yachts in the same way as owners of Range Rover cars view cross country driving: many like the idea, but few would truly really explore the remote areas. So I feel there is a gap between the perception of how explorer yachts are used to reach far corners of the world and the reality: most owners will use the full potential of their yachts in close proximity to where it is based.  

There are of course exceptions, and some owners truly use their explorer yachts to go further afield – just like the adventurous owner of the first Sanlorenzo 500EXP we sold, who ventured all the way up to Alaska.  

The key benefit for explorer yachts is that they can carry a lot of toys – and this is what owners are looking for now. We see an interest in Asia for yachts that can accommodate equipment for sports such as wakeboarding, wake surfing, diving and using toys. For a top-end experience, the Sanlorenzo EXP range offers the possibility to house a helicopter, submarine or seaplane. Sanlorenzo 500EXp Ocean Dreamwalker IIIPhoto: SanlorenzoSanlorenzo 500EXp Ocean Dreamwalker IIIPhoto: SanlorenzoCan you report on the sales of Sanlorenzo superyachts in Asia?

Since we took over Sanlorenzo representation in Asia, in 2015 the shift in the market became more evident. The sale of brokerage Sanlorenzo 46Steel which is still in Hong Kong was followed by another 46Steel delivered to Taiwan to a keen fisherman who was very impressed with the large aft cockpit and drop-down transom to use as a fishing platform.

More recently, we sold the 500EXP and the 44Alloy superyachts (due to be delivered in Asia this year) and recently commissioned another 500EXP which will be based in North Asia but will probably be used for cruising in Southeast Asia. 

In 2020 the Asian market accounted for 23.5% of Sanlorenzo’s total global sales demonstrating the strong growth of the Asian market since we took over the representation of the brand back in 2015. As a result, 12 yachts are already scheduled for delivery in early 2021 including new models of the 44Alloy, Sanlorenzo SX112, Sanlorenzo SL102 Asymmetric and the SD96 among others.Sanlorenzo SX112 fitted with Volvo Penta IPSPhoto: SuperYacht TimesSanlorenzo SX112 yacht saloonPhoto: Thomas PaganiWhy has the Hong Kong market boomed? 

Undoubtedly, Hong Kong is the strongest and most active market in Asia and this has been the case since the 1800s when the region's first yacht clubs opened, and now, all the major brands are represented here.  

The severe lockdown in the other parts of Asia affected both yacht sales and charter and therefore further widened the gap between the number of sales in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. Certainly, our sales in Hong Kong and China have grown significantly because of the pandemic due to these reasons. 

On the other hand, our charter division Simpson Yacht Charter has registered 600 charter days booked in Hong Kong alone in 2020. We also had numerous short term charters in Thailand, accounting together for over 1,000 charter days sold throughout Asia in 2020. Our Yacht Care and Management teams welcomed several new yachts into the fleet last year, with the Hong Kong division welcoming six new Sanlorenzo yachts and will further expand in 2021.Ocean Dreamwalker III arriving in Atlantis, the BahamasPhoto: Tom van Oossanen What is the Simpson Marine order book and delivery schedule looking like for 2021?

2021 has got off to a racing start with the first sale of a brokerage Sanlorenzo SL118 and a new SL78 to Indonesia. There is a lot of interest in Sanlorenzo across the region with a number of ongoing negotiations that will fill our order book for 2021 and continue into 2022. Due to a longer lead time on the bigger yachts and the high demand in Sanlorenzo yachts in Asia, a lot of yachts sold in 2020 will be delivered in 2021 and the same will happen in 2021 for 2022. 

Aside from Hong Kong and China, which remain very active, the Thai market is showing signs of recovery and is expected to deliver positive results in 2021. Additionally, new yachts will be arriving shortly in Singapore and Indonesia and could spark a surge of interest in these countries. 

The interconnected nature of SEA countries with Singapore being the hub for yacht refits and logistics, we are well-positioned to help our superyacht owners go cruising in beautiful waters of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, which are only a few days away from the Lion City, where our new Piero Lissoni designed Sanlorenzo SEA flagship office is based. 44 Alloy yacht H1 launch in La Spezia Photo: SanlorenzoTo find out more about Simpson Marine and its full range of services, contact the company directly via the information below.



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