Fairline COO on a remarkable year
Fairline COO Peter McNulty on a remarkable year McNulty says exciting yacht designs, new interactive online platforms and fresh investment keep driving the company forward.
Peter McNulty was appointed COO of Fairline Yachts in September 2019, having been a long-time senior advisor to the Management Board
How was the reception for the F//Line 33 at Salon Privé, promoted as the UK’s most exclusive Concours d’Elegance?
The F//Line 33 was very well received. It proved a real draw for visitors who wanted to find out more about the boat and Fairline, as well as those who were attracted due to her sheer size and impressive appearance. This was the third year we exhibited at the event, but the first time we’ve presented one of our yachts and it was a resounding success.
The F//Line was the perfect boat to introduce to a high-net-worth, non-yachting audience, thanks to her stunning good looks and manageable size. And compared to the multi-million-pound cars on display, she offers great value for money, too!
The F//Line 33 was the first boat Fairline has displayed at the car-focused Salon Privé
We’re impressed with the new online configurator for the F//Line 33 (www.f-line.com). What drove this interactive website?
Thank you! We were inspired by the market-leading Tesla and Ducati online configurators and we wanted to offer the first boating equivalent. We have built an interactive tool that hands control of designing the perfect boat over to our customers.
With the fast-growing ecommerce market forecast to hit US$6.5 trillion by 2023, it’s important that our digital portfolio meets the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s boat owners. Ordering a new car online is now commonplace and over the last half a year or so, we’ve seen a sharp increase in online customer interactions at Fairline, selling new boats from our online video tours and this new configurator.
Customised videos have been added to Fairline F//Line configurator
F//Line is a natural fit in the digital space because of its fun, stylish and modern aesthetic. As our product offering and customer base expands, so will our configurator and virtual marina offerings.
The feedback from both our dealer network and their customers has been really positive. They appreciate that it’s another tool for them to understand more about the F//Line and how they can specify and design their own boat. It’s a simple yet incredibly innovative, powerful tool for customers to take control of the often-complicated specification process.
What are the standout features on F//Line 33’s outboard version, which debuted at Boot Dusseldorf in January?
The outboard version is one of our latest launches with Mercury Verado 300, 350 or 400 engines, some of the smoothest, quietest engines available. The boat incorporates the highly innovative Ascender bathing platform from H+B Technic.
The F//Line 33 (white) and the outboard version (blue) at Boot Dusseldorf 2020
The high/low platform surrounds the outboard engines, lowers to form steps to the water when submerged or elevates, allowing the engine propellers to be raised clear of the water, reducing maintenance bills.
Can you tell us about any future F//Line models and any potential new features?
I can confirm there will be future F//Line models. The drawing board currently includes both smaller and larger models, as well as a further development to the current 33. We are seeing great potential for this sporty line within the wider Fairline portfolio.
What are your thoughts on Asia, where Fairline expanded Simpson Marine’s remit from Hong Kong and the Philippines to include more Southeast Asian countries and Taiwan?
Expanding the Simpson Marine territory has given us a significant advantage. From a customer point of view, Simpson Marine has the depth of experience and detailed knowledge of our models to genuinely match the right product to the customers’ exact boating requirements.
Simpson Marine recently sold a Squadron 50 in Hong Kong
With its after-sales coverage throughout the region, owners are looked after quickly, efficiently and very professionally. We’re certainly pleased with this partnership and delighted that Simpson Marine has chosen to play a major part of our growth across Asia.
How has Fairline changed its marketing and customer interaction following the cancellation of so many boat shows this year?
We’ve been supporting our global network of dealers to host private events in their own territories, offering Covid-secure, invitation-only events, tours and one-to-one virtual meetings with clients. Additionally, this change in customer interaction prompted us to create new ways of engaging, such as through the F//Line configurator and our Virtual Marina website.
While our customer interactions have changed, we continue to ensure we’re offering a first-class service to meet the specific needs and demands of our customers around the world.
What has been the feedback to the virtual Fairline Marina (www.fairline-marina.com) since its launch?
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the huge changes experienced, we’ve made a considerable effort to stay connected to our customers, fans and dealers. One innovative solution was launching our Fairline Marina, a new web platform offering a different way to engage with our audience whilst adhering to Government stay-at-home orders.
Launched on April 30 (2020), just a month after lockdown in the UK began, the Fairline Marina offers users a range of exciting and innovative opportunities to get up close and personal with our stunning yachts. Additionally, users can connect with our expert team via a live chat function, allowing customers to ask detailed questions about boat specifications, availability and costings, all from the comfort of their own home at a time that suits them.
Fairline has enjoyed overwhelming response to its virtual marina
The platform includes detailed 360-degree boat tours of all the yachts within our Squadron, Targa and F//Line ranges, as well as a regular calendar of livestream boat tours, which are hosted by our global dealer network.
Users are invited to tune in via Facebook for detailed tours of the boats, with each livestream taking customers from bow to stern, walking them through the boat in detail. Viewers are also invited to ask questions during the livestream to add further engagement.
The feedback has been amazing, and we sold a new Squadron 53 directly from the live video tour hosted by our UK dealer. In the first week, the Fairline Marina received 10,000 engagements and 40,000 video views. In total, the tours have been viewed over 350,000 times.
How has the market responded to the Targa 45 GT, another of Fairline’s debuts at Boot Dusseldorf 2020?
Despite Covid-19 and the challenges it has presented, the Targa 45 GT has been very well received and we have taken a significant number of new orders. As an enclosed Targa with a large garage, it’s a winning combination. Customers all around the world genuinely love it, as it appeals to those in both warmer and colder climates. In fact, the 45 line has rapidly become the most popular model in our portfolio, and we have high hopes for this to continue for the foreseeable future.
How has the flagship Squadron 68 been selling, since the first three units sold to Europe, Asia and the US?
We’re manufacturing hull number nine. The geographical spread has seen Squadron 68s arriving in the US and Canada, northern and southern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In fact, the most customised Squadron 68 we’ve built to date is currently berthed in Hong Kong, with a stunning grey hull and superstructure, two luxurious cabins and three – yes, three – fully equipped galleys.
Feedback is overwhelmingly positive for this model and, as with all our boats, development is a continuous process as we learn more about what our customers want from their boat. In fact, we’re focused on enhancing the interior, introducing even more luxurious, contemporary materials as well as maximising light and space internally. The design work on this model will set the tone for all our yachts moving forward.
The owner’s suite on the Squadron 68
Much of Fairline’s resurgence as a global brand has been its yacht designs by Alberto Mancini. Will he continue to work on all Fairline models?
We will certainly continue to work with Mancini on our new Fairline models and he is instrumental in the development of our F//Line model range. In-house, our Fairline Yachts Design Studio led by Wayne Huntley plays a crucial role in the design and development of our boats, and we work with various naval architects around the world including the renowned J&J Design.
Considering the economic climate in 2020, why was RiverRock willing to expand its investment in Fairline so it became the majority owner?
RiverRock values Fairline as a robust, sound business and was keen to support our future development. Outside of the pandemic, which has affected all boat builders, we have an extremely strong position in the global market and a really exciting future, which RiverRock is instrumental in supporting. New product development is imperative in our market, and RiverRock’s investment will help us to expand and accelerate our new product plans.
Fairline has caught up with production in Oundle after sales far outstripped production capacity following the brand’s rapid revival from 2016
Has Fairline’s production in Oundle managed to catch up with its order book and what’s happening with the Hythe site in Southampton?
We are on track with our order book and production is now at a manageable level for our factory. Our lead times are around six to nine months for a new build, which is an acceptable timeframe for boats with our level of customisation. We’ve been in Oundle for over 50 years and the site remains the home of Fairline. The Nene Valley factory is where the complete fleet is built and it will continue to be so.
Our boat building aspirations for the site in Hythe changed. That said, Hythe Shipyard – which includes a multi-purpose commercial slipway and provides both onshore storage and covered work areas – continues to contribute to the Fairline Yachts business. To date, this operation has serviced a range of clients including Carrington Boats, for Ben Ainsley’s America’s Cup project and Alex Thompson for his Hugo Boss Vendee Globe challenge, and commercial projects for Red Funnel, Southampton Marine Services and SailGP.
The first F//Line 33 in Asia is in Singapore and available through Simpson Marine
Finally, what else do you think our Asia-based readers should know about Fairline Yachts?
We have very strong dealer partners in the Asia region, from KLM in southern China to Simpson Marine. These exceptional dealers are highly committed to our brand – as we are to them – and we work together as partners to deliver desirable products and outstanding customer service. We have a steady flow of new boats coming into the Asian market, particularly in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Simpson Marine confirms the first Fairline Squadron 50 in Hong Kong has quickly been snapped up, showing the demand for the builder’s blend of British craftsmanship and Italian design..