Live from Qatar: Interview with Gulf Craft's Erwin Bamps at QIBS

You recently announced a $100,000,000 investment. What are you going to do?

The idea is to expand the production capacity first and foremost. We have several sites in the Emirates and also in the Maldives. We have been continuously growing and despite the global recession we have been able to grow our market share. During those difficult years, we launched boats like the 125’, the 135’ and the 155’. Of course they have been increasingly larger yachts but we have also built a higher diversity of other vessels as well. We find ourselves constrained in the production facilities we have today, so one of the major reasons for the investment was to create additional production for further expansion.

An investment of $100,000,000 sounds like an awful lot of money that you have to earn back.

It’s spread over several years, so it’s not that we are going to spend it in the next month. But yes, that is my challenge. To make sure that the return on that investment is created over the next few years. I believe it starts today. The moment you make an announcement like that, it’s not only the press and the competition that pick up on that, but it’s also clients. It’s especially clients that notice the confidence that you have in your own business and in where the yachting market is heading globally.

When I visited your shipyard I noticed that you build all sizes side by side, so you were building smaller and bigger boats pretty much in a line. Is that what you are going to do with the new shipyard as well, or are you going to focus mainly on boats above a certain size?

Mainly on boats above a certain size. We are predominantly looking at superyachts and allowing us to relieve a little bit pressure from the other facilities where we can then make a mix of products that are closer to each other in terms of sizing.

Does that also mean other materials, like steel and aluminum?

At this moment we have no plans to diversify the basic construction of material.

Now you are here at the Qatar International Boat Show, and you also had an event here in Qatar in March. Is this a market you see with a lot of potential?

We have a lot of clients from this market and if you look around the marina here, you will find that 40% of the products in this market are ours - one of our brands’ models that we have produced over the past two or three years. The Qatari market has been very open to experimenting and trying different things with boats and yachts.

What is interesting here is that you didn’t bring two brand new boats. Instead, you brought two used boats.

Sometimes it is tempting to show something that is a little older that you have taken as a trade in. Now people will be able to witness a boat that is six or eight years old and make up their own mind about the retention of value. I think that is what we are about. So here we can proudly show a used boat in proper condition and let the owner make up his own mind about what the value is after so many years.

By Maarten Janssen

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