Paul Blanc on Jeanneau’s new directions
While expecting record annual turnover, Jeanneau’s Brand Director talks about the company’s exciting paths, led by the launches of its first DB luxury dayboat, biggest Merry Fisher and 65ft flagship sailing yacht, while looking forward to notable debuts in 2023.
Paul Blanc, Brand Director, Jeanneau
Why did Jeanneau create the DB/43 luxury dayboat, which is a huge design leap for the brand?
Boaters are increasingly using their boats for short day trips, even on big boats. In the 30-50ft size, luxury dayboats are progressively becoming the main segment of the market, especially in the Mediterranean and in Florida. It will overtake the classic express cruiser design and I think it will be the style of boat you’ll see everywhere in 5-10 years.
We’ve invested in this segment because we believe it’s the future. It’s a very good move for Jeanneau. We would never go into a niche market, so we needed to be sure it was a sustainable trend, not a passing fad. We saw other brands going into it, so we can’t pretend we’re pioneers. We decided to design a luxury day boat when we were sure our clients would appreciate it and demand would last.
Jeanneau DB/43 is the first model in the DB line
We then asked ourselves: If we design a luxury day boat, what is a Jeanneau and how do we approach it? We recognised Jeanneau would always be a family boat, versatile and functional, so it should offer more than the competition.
The style, outside entertainment areas and space are in line with the codes of a luxury dayboat. The DB/43 is very sexy. Camillo Garroni did an excellent job on the styling and the lines are very sophisticated. He brought a design inspired by cars, with a sculpted hull.
However, we also wanted to offer nice cabins below deck because our clients might go out for the day with friends or kids 90 per cent of the time, but maybe one or two weeks a year, they’ll want to do a longer cruise and go island hopping. They need a nice master cabin and good storage, so that’s how we approached it.
Drop-down sides on the DB/43
The DB/43 brings a bit more rationality in a market segment that’s not the most rational, because it’s party boats before anything else, but we make it usable in a lot of different conditions.
What have early sales been like?
Everything sells well now. It’s more how fast it sells, and it has sold very quickly. Before its first show at the Cannes Yachting Festival (in September 2022), we’d received 50 orders, so it’s sold out until at least the summer of 2023. It was the starting phase of showing the boat and we already had a year of production secured.
The feedback at boat shows is above our expectations, so we’re very happy. People go to the competition, then come to the DB/43 and see it offers more, especially inside. They can do more with this boat. And it still has Jeanneau DNA: functional, family friendly and versatile.
The DB/37 is set to debut at Boot Dusseldorf
What’s next for the DB series?
We’ll roll out a full range within the next two years. It’s important to have a series so clients can be offered the same concept in different sizes and budgets, and then move through the range. (Since this interview, Jeanneau has announced it will debut the DB/37 at Boot Dusseldorf from January 21-29, 2023 – click for article.)
Which is Jeanneau’s most popular motorboat range in Asia?
The larger Merry Fisher models. The cabin and enclosed space offer more versatility and comfort, whether it’s for air-conditioning or to have a proper bathroom. Models like the Merry Fisher 895 and 1095 have been very popular, and now we’re launching the new 1295 Fly, so that’s going to be very interesting.
The 1295 Fly is the new Merry Fisher flagship
With outboard engines, the 1295 is an interesting alternative to inboard motor yachts in markets where you can’t easily maintain inboard engines. Servicing outboard engines is possible pretty much anywhere, whether it’s Indonesia or the Philippines, because outboards are used on many professional boats.
The 1295 is also interesting because it’s over 41ft with a comfortable flybridge and nice bow lounge area, big enough to entertain large parties, which is important for Asian markets.
With the Merry Fisher 1295 Fly measuring 41ft, Jeanneau is starting to overlap with luxury flybridge motor yacht builders including Prestige, a sister brand.
It’s an alternative. The 1295 Fly has a different price point and a different interior finish than Prestige. And some people may prefer inboard engines like on a Prestige for the bathing platform and lower fuel consumption. Although when you look at your overall usage cost, it’s more economical to go for outboards.
CGI of the Jeanneau Yachts 55
Among your sailing boats, the Jeanneau Yachts 60 and 65 launched in 2021 and 2022 respectively. However, the 55 set to debut at Boot Dusseldorf in January 2023 offers a completely new proposition, with an aft deck offering expansive seating and lounging areas.
We wanted to innovate on the 55. The monohull sailboat market is one of the boating segments that’s not growing much, losing market share to catamarans and powerboats because people want more outdoor space and features like big sunbeds.
Sailing boats designed for offshore voyages are very protected, but once you cross one ocean, you spend six months in a tropical destination where you want a very open design. On the other hand, open designs aren’t so suitable for offshore voyages, because you want protection when there’s bad weather.
On the Jeanneau Yachts 55 we bring the best of both worlds with a dual cockpit concept. You have the enclosed cockpit forward, offering great protection during offshore passages, and when you arrive at a destination, you have this huge, relaxing aft deck platform using the whole beam of the boat, which has never been seen before on a monohull. I think it will be very attractive to a lot of our owners with that sailing programme.
CGI of the Jeanneau Yachts 55 interior
Owners sail as a couple or family 90 per cent of the time and it’s only during holidays that they invite a couple of friends to join for a bit of a trip, so the 55’s design with the private owner suite and fully independent guest suites is another great unique feature.
So, the Jeanneau Yachts 55 is competing with sailing catamarans as much as monohulls?
We’ve seen some of our owners moving to catamarans, but sometimes they regret it because they miss the sailing sensations and manoeuvrability of monohulls. What they want on the catamaran is purely the functionality and the space organisation, not specifically the two hulls. By offering more living space on our monohull, owners can get the functionality and privacy, without giving up the pleasure of sailing.
We already see a strong demand for the 55. When we presented it to our dealers, who know their clients very well, the first thing they said was, ‘I know a client who was about to move to a catamaran, but he’ll love this’. They really see that we got it right. It’s about bringing back interest in monohulls, not competing against other models.
Jeanneau Yachts 65 is the brand flagship
Are you happy with sales of the Jeanneau Yachts 60 and the 65?
Yes. Our clients have received these new designs very well. They’re true to the Jeanneau DNA and we benefit from a very strong customer base in the Jeanneau Yachts family; half the people buying them are existing Jeanneau owners upgrading.
Back in 2008, Jeanneau launched the [Sun Odyssey] 54 DS, which was the first model of the Jeanneau Yachts style, and since then we’ve been renewing the designs, adding a little bit more with each new model. With the 55 we challenged ourselves even more. I think it’s going to be interesting to test this innovative design, before bringing some of those features to other models in the future.
In Asia, how is Jeanneau doing in the 30-50ft sector with the Sun Odyssey and Sun Fast ranges?
Still strong, but in Asia and developing markets in general, people are tempted to go to power boats because it’s less intimidating and they like to get to their destination quickly. There isn’t really the culture of taking time to cruise. It’s hard to get people into sailing when they haven’t grown up with it.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 380
We need to work on how to bring people into sailing, not only Jeanneau but the whole industry, because it’s a cleaner way of boating and a different philosophy of life. We make Jeanneau sailboats easy to use and accessible, so that everyone can sail with basic training.
How has Jeanneau handled production in the Covid era, with increased demand but supply chain issues?
We expect to deliver 3,500 boats in 2022, which is a record year in terms of volume and turnover. We’re producing more than before Covid, but sometimes deliveries can be delayed if we need to wait for parts. Covid has been an eye-opener for many; it’s been a call to enjoy life. Even if the market craze is behind us, we believe the demand will continue to be strong.
Why are you confident?
People wealthy enough to afford a boat above 30ft are usually entrepreneurs. Their businesses are doing well. Any inflation may also apply to their assets, so they’re quite resilient to inflation. A key economic indicator – which is quite reassuring – is that savings in the bank are at a record high, compared to 2008 when people were in debt.
The Merry Fisher 1095 Fly
We live in a world full of questions around the Ukraine war, energy crisis or inflation, but if our clients want to enjoy life and escape these questions, they can afford a boat. And if you have the money, why wait? Covid had this impact. If you have a dream, just do it now.
Typically, our clients are not much wealthier than they were in 2019, but back then they were thinking about other priorities or that they should keep saving more money. During Covid, they realised they wanted to do something with their family that would take them away from all the trouble and they went for it. I think people will continue to be in this mindset of enjoying life now.
The Cap Camarat 1250 WA
They’re also more flexible in their organisation of time and that makes a huge difference. If they want, they can work three days at the office and two days from their boats, so that’s four days a week on their boat, which is a big change.
I think the demand will continue to be strong. Of course, it might be a soft landing and the market will cool down, but I don’t see the demand stopping anytime e soon.
Blanc has been Jeanneau’s Brand Director since April 2020, having spent over 16 years in Asia. After working for Peugeot in Paris, he was Marketing Director of Citroen China in Beijing from January 2004-December 2007. He then spent two years between Beijing and Shanghai as General Manager (Greater China) of On Product Publishing Group. In April 2010, he began a 10-year role as Jeanneau’s Asia-Pacific Sales Director, moving from Shanghai to Hong Kong, where he was also Managing Director of Groupe Beneteau Asia Pacific from July 2018 to April 2020.