Insight: 10 things to consider before starting your own shipyard

Written by Merijn de Waard

Over the years several yacht owners and investors have made their move into the world of yacht building. While some of them have become successful, others have not been as lucky. Are you thinking about making the dive and setting up your own yard? Here we share with you 10 things you should consider before you start your own, or buy an existing shipyard.

Atlantis II, Lady Moura and Lionheart in MonacoPhoto: Tom van Oossanen / SuperYacht TimesQUESTION YOUR INTENTIONS

Ask yourself why you are setting up or buying your own shipyard. Are you 100% certain of your decision? Are you in it for the long run, or are you just looking to build one yacht for your own personal use? A shipyard is not a business with which you can be profitable and make a quick buck in the short term. In order to run a successful shipyard, it is imperative to have a clear long-term vision. It is also important to ask yourself if you are building yachts for the market or for yourself because these two things are often not the same. 


Before you start preparing to open your new yard, it is essential you thoroughly research the market and analyse your competitors. Hire a company specialised in doing so, or make sure that you use the right sources, as inaccurate information is unfortunately common.


Carefully consider the location of your shipyard. The country you set up your yard in will play a big part in establishing your reputation and brand, but each country will also have a different cost structure. It is of vital importance you look at the number of suppliers and subcontractors in the area - as you will need them.


When establishing a new shipyard, choose the name carefully. Use a branding agency with international experience to help you select a name that works worldwide, not just in your country. If you buy an existing brand, then research the history and reputation of that brand today.  

Samaya in drydock ZaandamPhoto: Tom van Oossanen / SuperYacht TimesDESIGN

Select a designer who aligns well with your brand and image. Your first superyacht will be your most important marketing tool, so be sure that the brand and yacht are in line with each other. Did you take over a shipyard that did not do so well? Think about making a switch from the same designer and model line. Working with a well-known designer can also raise the profile of your brand. The same goes for a good naval architecture and engineering firm.


Meeting expectations set by your yard is key, as it has happened in the past that a new shipyard has given a delivery date or announced an upcoming debut of a yacht at an important show, and failed to meet these self-imposed deadlines. Often the yacht was delivered a year or more later than the expected delivery date. This can have an extremely negative impact on your reputation, so be sure to make realistic schedules.


Competitive pricing is good, but making your superyachts too cheap is not. 

If you plan to sell your yacht at cost price or lower,  the whole industry will inevitably find out. The yachting industry is small, and secrets do not stay secret for long. If this is still your plan, we advise that you market the first yacht as an ‘investor’s yacht’, a product showcase. Transparency is important, and your reputation will be upheld.


Though marketing and PR hold significant value, it is more advantageous to hold off on sharing too much information until the final year of construction. New shipyards often spend a lot of money on advertising as soon as they open their doors even though their first superyacht completion is scheduled to be delivered four years in the future. Managing your media relations is also very important. Be open and tell the truth. Be very careful with what you tell the media and do not announce that a project has been sold or started if it has not. 


Creating a fantastic managerial team to help run your shipyard is indispensable. People from outside the yachting industry can bring innovative change and direction, but it’s important to realise that a shipyard is not the same as a luxury goods company. Everything comes down to the quality of your first yacht, so ensure you have an excellent production manager.


The quality of your first yacht will set your reputation for the years to come. You can only make a first impression once, so make sure it is completely finished when you display it at a yacht show. It is always better to take more time to have the best quality you can than to rush the delivery to make a yacht show.

Yacht in-build Photo: Tom van Oossanen / SuperYacht Times

SuperYacht Times is the trusted market intelligence and research partner for the biggest yacht builders in the world. Our market information platform, SuperYacht Times iQ (SYT iQ), is the most advanced intelligence system that tracks the superyacht market. SYT iQ gives you instant information on refits, sales, new listings, price updates, owner changes, name changes, launches, deliveries and casualties. 

SYT iQ also contains the full superyacht fleet, including the construction book, all new and used yachts for sale and all transactions. Per superyacht, we also provide specifications, owners, historic prices, sales, refits, photos and much more. In addition, it also features a directory with superyacht professionals, companies and owners.

We are also the official superyacht data and intelligence partner of the Monaco Yacht Show and advice the Superyacht Builders Association on market intelligence matters. For more information please contact our Head of Intelligence, Ralph Dazert, at [email protected].

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