Here SYT talks to Fred van Beers, the CEO of German brand Blohm + Voss. Speaking at the 25th edition of the Monaco Yacht Show in late September last year, Van Beer discusses the future direction of the company, as well as one of their latest superyacht projects; the BV80.
With the fully engineered package complete, the shipyard are ready to start building, though without a definite owner to date it is unclear as to when exactly the vessel will be completed. Why? To keep true to the Blohm + Voss ethos of creating and constructing unique vessels with a high level of customisation that the industry has come to know the company for.
How has this year been for Blohm + Voss so far?
It has been a very interesting year. I only know half of it as I’ve been here for six months, but it has generated a lot of positive energy and positive interest from the market. We detailed the BV80 out completely, the fully engineered package, to the level that we have started building sections for the vessel that will reduce our delivery time to two and a half years, which is generating a lot of interest.
In 2014 there was a letter of intent for the boat. Is there still something going on?
[At the time of writing] The letter of intent is still there. It’s there for the remainder of this year. We are not, however, focusing on that letter of intent alone. We have a few other projects that I would consider more serious at this moment.
Is it the intention to complete the BV80 or just build the hull if you don’t sell it?
We do not believe in a full spec build at this moment. Blohm + Voss is known for its customisation. Although the BV80 will be launched as a semi-custom yacht, I would like to keep that high level of customisation, up to the extent that the sections we are building today could also be used for a 75, or an 85. What we did, for example, is order all the critical parts that create a longer lead-time. We tried to find an optimum between maximum customisation and short delivery time.
Are you also looking at building boats under 80 metres?
We have to be realistic - we don’t go there. Why? Because our whole setup facilitates big boats much better. I think there are great alternatives in the market. For us, a 75 metre is definitely a boat we would consider, but not much smaller.
Some of your competitors have signed big boats. Why do you think those clients have not chosen Blohm + Voss? Are there still some doubts amongst clients?
We’re pretty happy that we are considered as a qualified yard in competition with the big yards that are out there today. At Blohm + Voss, we’re catching up quite rapidly, and we’re proud of the position that we’re in now. We have a large order book and a very strong refit position and order intake, simply because of the frigate programme that we’re building. We have to be realistic. The space will be freed up, at the earliest, mid-2016.
If your docks are occupied with frigates until mid-2016, can you still offer a good delivery time for a custom superyacht or the BV80?
Well, I would say it is as fast as it was last year. We can deliver the BV80 in April 2018 and we have one off projects that we can offer between 40 and 46 months starting from the 1st January 2016.
How is the superyacht refit business going?
The refit side is going really well, and that’s in line with what we have already published on our strategy. It is, for us, a very important market. It’s part of this whole life cycle concept that we’re offering. The market is increasing, but with every new boat that comes into the market, there is another potential refit or service project. We believe that we could be a brand globally known for that sector. For me, the superyacht sector is all about the birth of the boat, and I like to be involved. The building is four years; the use is 40 years or more.
Are you planning any changes or do you have plans for expansion in the short term?
First of all we have decided to expand in Monaco. We have to strengthen our setup there since a lot of communication and ideas and contacts are started from Monaco. Having said that, we feel that America is important, and we’re looking at a sales outlet there, as well as the Middle East. It still has to be seen whether we take an agent approach or a front office approach, or whether we team up with brokers, but the office in Monaco will be Blohm + Voss branded with its own outlet.
Also, from 1st January 2016, we aim to concentrate all of our yacht people on one floor of one building in Hamburg, so there is a clear visible yacht team and we won’t have everything spread all over the place. Next year we are also seriously looking at expanding our refit footprint and activities in the Mediterranean, and we are looking at various options on how to do that.
The full interview with Fred van Beers is featured in Issue V of The SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscriptions are available here.