Sunseeker took the yachting industry, and customers, by surprise in announcing not only the Sunseeker 161 Yacht in 2018, but also that it was expanding into aluminum construction. While it was news to the public, it was actually part of a carefully crafted vision. In fact, the model was just the first in an official Sunseeker Superyacht Division, which continues to grow. Our editor, Diane M. Byrne, sat down with Sunseeker’s CEO, Andrea Frabetti, to get further details on this vision, as well as upcoming models. Between 137 Sunseekers exceeding 100 feet on the water, and Frabetti’s 25 years with the Ferretti Group, among other professional experience, the conversation was enlightening.
MegayachtNews.com: Clearly, this division has been in the works for some time. How long ago was the company planning on it?
Andrea Frabetti: Sunseeker actually had a superyacht focus 15 years ago. But, we didn’t have a dedicated organization to superyachts. To sell a superyacht and to manage a superyacht is completely different than the same for a smaller yacht. Even though there’s some continuity, it’s not the same. With the Superyacht Division, we have a dedicated organization and a strategy to grow in a way in which we will cover the niches in this market. For example, Sunseeker doesn’t have a Predator in this range. The Sunseeker Predator 108 was a nightmare in the early 2000s for Pershing, where I was. Pershing created the 115 to compete with Sunseeker. Unfortunately, Sunseeker abandoned this niche, so the strategy is to cover all the niches, including the big Predators. In fact, we will show a concept for a big Predator at the Düsseldorf show in 2020.
I was appointed CEO in June. Right away, we formalized a new strategic committee. When Robert Braithwaite ran the company, it was very lean, and made decisions quickly. Our competitors are very lean in their process. Our company now has strong leadership in the new strategic committee.
MegayachtNews.com: Why turn to outside shipyards for assistance?
Andrea Frabetti: Building in fiberglass was a limitation. Many customers like to move up, like to customize their boats a lot. Many customers like to have a larger boat, and with our production footprint and space available in Poole, we can’t cover all the needs of superyachts. That’s one of the reasons for the Sunseeker Superyacht Division. We needed dedicated people. We will maintain some production in Poole; the 116 Yacht will remain in Poole. The 131 Yacht will likely remain in Poole, or be built together with Pendennis, because it’s a fiberglass superyacht. The 133 Yacht (pictured below) will start in our facilities, but the completion and launch of the boat will be done at Pendennis. Seventy percent of the 133 Yacht will be built by us, because it’s fiberglass.
With Pendennis, we are designing a full range from about 120 to 140. They have a huge organization, 400 employees, and the know-how to build metal yachts and to satisfy our customers’ needs. Then, between 140 and 160, we will show some full metal boats. The flagship will remain the collaboration with Icon Yachts, the 161 Yacht. But, the style and interiors of that yacht are from Sunseeker.
MegayachtNews.com: When did you approach Pendennis as a potential partner?
Andrea Frabetti: In June. We made the decision together with Pendennis that month, and announced it in September at the Monaco show.
MegayachtNews.com: Were there any other shipyard under consideration, or was Pendennis number one?
Andrea Frabetti: We analyzed some opportunities, but personally I think I was the most convinced about Pendennis, for many reasons. They are British, they have the facilities, the perception is strong. They are professional, and have very good know-how in refitting, too. In refitting, you need to respect the original construction to make things work. I was looking for an organization to plug and play with us. I think there’s no better company than one familiar with refitting. They have the mentality to respect the original design, to respect everything, but to take over a job and complete it. They will dedicate one of their buildings to Sunseeker. Our team will be there, working with them.
MegayachtNews.com: It’s interesting that you bring up their refit business. Because a good refit yard can identify where things can be done better, to help inform future builds.
Andrea Frabetti: Absolutely. I worked many years in La Spezia, at probably one of the most competent shipyards, Valdettaro. They need to have experts, really good minds. They need to have the knowledge every day that is not so common. Building a yacht with a brand you’ve never worked with, you need the right team.