Exclusive interview with Ferretti Group’s Stefano de Vivo
Even though Ferretti Group racked up over US$1 billion in sales in the first nine months of 2021, CCO Stefano de Vivo says the Italian conglomerate is continuing to focus on advancing and widening its range of models to keep its iconic brands as front-runners in their sectors. Interview: John Higginson.
Stefano De Vivo
Alberto Galassi said “I have never seen anything like this in my seven years as CEO” when talking about Ferretti Group’s recent sales figures, which include orders in the first nine months of 2021 exceeding €900 million (US$1 billion). What’s behind the current demand?
It looks like Covid has helped us convince everybody that they need a boat! Mr Galassi and I started as CEO and CCO in 2014 when the turnover of Ferretti Group was about €100 million and now you can see what our turnover will look like for 2021. For sure, the market is really good, and we’ve never seen sales going so well. It has been an incredible run for Ferretti Group, which has many new products, renewed many products and even created new segments in the market.
A current theme among builders is the struggle for production to keep up with demand. How is Ferretti Group managing?
I’ve worked in the industry for the best part of 20 years, so I don’t forget the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and 2009. I also don’t forget the years before that, when it was a fantastic market growing like no tomorrow, although there was a lot of financing then and we’re not seeing that as much today, which is important.
Ferretti Yachts 500 in Hong Kong
However, we’re not in a rush to increase our capacity. There’s no need to double the moulds because who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. It may be better to sell a few less because we still sell a super-exclusive product. If we were to double the mould, for example, of a Pershing 8X and we were to build 10 or 12 a year instead of four or five, would there be that many people ready to buy it? Maybe right now, but you’re diluting the brand.
Also, if you increase your production capacity, at some point you must make CapEx investments. We’ve already made those in recent years and we’re happy with our brands, models and the units we’re producing. If we increase more and you have a downturn, like 2008 and 2009, you’re going to be in a very difficult situation.
Pershing 6X was among the Group’s premieres at the Cannes Yachting Festival
However, we are expanding our range of models. Ferretti Yachts has gone up to 100ft with the 1000. When we bought Wally, we moved into the outboard sector, then this year we created the WHY200, which is a completely new segment. Pershing has great brand recognition, so we’re leveraging on that to create the TØ, which again is going to be a new segment when it’s introduced in 2022.
Remember, Covid has made many people buy boats for the first time and made people who had a boat decide to upgrade, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to change their boat every year. Our recent sales include 40 per cent to repeat clients, 20 per cent from the competition and 40 per cent first-time boat buyers. We’re not always going to have that increase each year.
After the Pershing 140 and Riva 50 Metri represented new flagships for both brands in 2019, Ferretti Yachts has enjoyed a lot of attention in 2021 with the 1000, its biggest model to date. How has it been received?
We’ve already sold at least 16 units (as of September 2021). However, for the reasons we’ve discussed, we’re aware sales are not always going to be like this.
Ferretti Yachts’ new flagship 1000 debuted in mid-2021
Ferretti Yachts had its 50th anniversary in 2018 and this year it deserved to be back in the spotlight because the 1000 is just something else. We even sold one over the Internet when there was complete lockdown at the beginning of Covid. It’s just a fantastic design, a fantastic layout and leveraged on the Group’s experience with the Riva 100’ Corsaro and the bigger Custom Lines.
Ferretti Yachts now has a real flagship for its clients. It has a tremendous number of clients who are affectionate to the brand and not all want to upgrade to a Custom Line. When we use the tagline, ‘Just like Home’ for Ferretti Yachts, it’s true. We try to think about that boat in a completely different way. You should feel like you’re at home.
It has recently been a new era for Ferretti Yachts with four models with exteriors by Filippo Salvetti and two, the 500 and 1000, with interiors by IdeaeItalia. How have the new designs been received?
We started this new path with the 850, with external design by Zuccon [International Project]. It was the first Ferretti Yachts model after I joined Ferretti Group at the same time as Mr Galassi. We completely changed the interior and went for a minimalistic interior. Some clients love it, but we probably overshot and were losing a little bit of our base.
IdeaeItalia handled the interior of the Ferretti Yachts 1000 interiors
With the new design team, we have a great balance. Filippo Salvetti is doing a fantastic job, bringing new modern lines but not forgetting the heritage traits Ferrettis have always had. I think the 1000 is a beautiful boat to look at and it’s a very clever boat.
For the interiors, I think IdeaeItalia managed to find the balance we needed – modern, contemporary, with the option of a warm one and a lighter one, but not too extreme, not too minimalistic. As I said, ‘Just like Home’ must feel homely.
You said you expect Wally to be a cornerstone of the Ferretti Group business within three-five years. Since acquiring the brand, you’ve launched the 48 and 43wallytenders and WHY200, will debut the 58wallypower in January and are building some sailing yachts. It’s an iconic brand, but can it really reach production levels to financially compete with the likes of Riva, Ferretti Yachts and Custom Line?
Absolutely. Because if you think about it, having the niche brands – and Wally is one of them – you cannot build too many of the same thing. That’s why, for example, we could have doubled the line of a mould of a 48wallytender.
The 43wallytender X debuted in early 2021
Between the inboard and outboard version (X), we’ve now delivered 35 units (as of September 2021) and sold more. We could have sold many more, but we don’t want to do it. We’ve limited our production to a mix of inboard and outboards of about 12-15 units a year. If you have 15 units of the 48wallytender in the same place, you’re not going to feel very special after you bought something top of the range. That’s why we don’t over produce.
However, Wally can become as large as we’re predicting because we can build the various Wallytenders, more Wallypower models, WHY range models, the big 165 Wallypower we designed with Espen Øino, plus full custom boats in steel and aluminium. We can build any range we want.
The first Wally 101 sloop was sold in early 2021
We also have sailing, which is the cherry on the cake. The brand was born with sailing and it can bring nice revenues, plus we have a Wally class that can show how our performance cruisers are more comfortable to cruise than our competitors’. They’re also the fastest to race because you’re going to be faster if you use carbon in the best manner, like if you design with the knowledge of Wally’s design team and the naval architects we use.
Having launched Riva’s Flybridge range with the 90’ Argo, 100’ Corsaro and 110’ Dolcevita and then added the 50 Metri, there has been a focus on smaller Rivas this year. In the Sportfly range, there’s the upgraded 76’ Perseo Super, while the Open range now includes the 68’ Diable with a hardtop, while hardtops were added to the [48ft] Dolceriva and 56’ Rivale. Why did you start adding cover to Open models?
More and more people don’t want to be in the sun all the time and a hardtop just makes it so much easier. You always have some shade and if you need more shade, it’s easy to fit an extra bimini, which looks better with a hardtop than on an Open boat. Rivas are super sleek, super beautiful, but we finally convinced ourselves that we’d have to accept a little compromise in beauty, as a boat with a hardtop is never going to be as beautiful as a boat without.
Riva’s new 68’ Diable incorporates a hardtop
The American market was a push, while it’s so hot in Asia Pacific, although in Hong Kong people have started using small open boats for water-skiing and wakesurfing, and for fun and swimming. In the Med, people sneered at hardtops, but clients are starting to ask us to fit the hardtops. I think it’s a compromise you need to accept.
What else is coming from Riva?
We’ve got the 130’, a 300GT planing yacht that fills the gap between the 110’ Dolcevita and 50 Metri, and some large custom projects in discussion. We’ve also got a couple of models to restyle. For example, the 100’ Corsaro is going to become the 102’. Again, we sold so many units that we decided it’s time to make it a little bit different. The Corsaro is beautiful, but the 102’ will have some different features.
Riva debuted the 76’ Perseo Super at Cannes
The 76’ Bahamas (Open range flagship) will have a restyle, just as the Perseo 76’ had – they’re built on the same platform.
For Pershing, the new 6X completes the X line and the TØ is the next range, starting with a 35m (115ft) model. What can you tell us about it?
Hull one of the 115 will be at the 2022 Monaco Yacht Show. It’s going to be a nice range. TØ is like an SUV concept. Pershing is the sports car of the seas, so the TØ is going to be like the Lamborghini Urus or Porsche Cayenne.
The first Pershing TØ under construction
People still want amazing design and speed, and although this will be slightly reduced because of the size and volume, it will still be the fastest sport boat on the market apart from the Pershing X range. It’s going to have incredible volume inside and outdoor space, a garage for the tender, and just be a great way to enjoy the sea.
Custom Line is very strong in Asia-Pacific, with hull one of the new Navetta 30 delivered to Hong Kong this year and one recently sold to Singapore. It’s also Ferretti Group’s next brand to introduce a new flagship, with the 140’ set for 2022. What should we look out for on the 140’?
The 140’ is a planing craft and will leverage on the shape of the 120’, which has a fantastic hull, as the wave-piercing bow and hydrodynamics give you great performance at speed. The hull can cut through waves nicely but also works well at slower speeds. The 140’ is also going to use the 2,600hp MTU engines, so it’s ready for when SCR (selective catalytic reduction) systems are compulsory from 2023.
The Custom Line 140’ will be the brand’s flagship
We’ve managed this because we’ve used carbon-fibre for the superstructure for the upper deck and sun deck. Also, thanks to the knowledge gained through Pershing, we’re investing in making light-construction furniture. This lowers the weight so much that we can use the smaller engines and still go 23 knots, so less fuel, less costs. It also reduces the draft, which is great for the US, parts of Asia, and many other markets.
What can you tell us about the new green-focused models Ferretti Group is developing?
It will be on a semi-displacement or fast displacement model. We’re looking at combining solar power, hybrid engines, batteries and other ideas.
Ferretti Group is working to find alternative ways and means of propulsion. We’re working with some of the largest companies on the planet to find things that really make an impact. We’re using more carbon-fibre to reduce weight and improving insulation to reduce air-conditioning.
Wally’s WHY200 premiered at Cannes in September
Ferretti Group, our clients and many other people are realising we’re all part of this ecosystem and we need to do whatever we can. Our clients enjoy the sea, so if you realise that you’re affecting it, you want to make a difference. And as yachts are a luxury product, owners can afford to spend a bit more to do the right thing.
More people are asking about sustainability now than they used to, for sure. Clients ask about insulation and how we’re achieving less emissions. We’re very happy to show them, along with what we’ve done in our production facilities to reduce the energy we use. We’ve invested over €30 million to increase capacity but also to put geothermic energy so we can reduce our energy consumption by over 20 per cent. That really makes a difference.
Finally, how are Ferretti Group orders in Asia-Pacific?
The market made up 11 per cent of sales in 2020. It was a larger percentage before, but it mainly reduced because the other markets grew a lot, grew even more. Hong Kong is a big part of the APAC market and had the protests in 2019 and 2020, then the initial part of Covid before rising last year. I think we’ll see great sales for 2021.
The first Custom Line Navetta 30 arrived in Hong Kong in early 2021
The total sales for APAC have been increasing, but it’s a case of what the area’s sales are a percentage of, whether it’s €600 million, €800 million, €1 billion and so on.
STEFANO DE VIVO
De Vivo has been Chief Commercial Officer of Ferretti Group since May 2014. His other positions within Ferretti Group include Managing Director of Ferretti Group Asia Pacific, Executive Director and Board Member of CRN, and Managing Director of Wally. Joining Ferretti Group in January 2002, De Vivo spent five years with Riva including two as the brand’s Far East and South Pacific Area Manager. He was Benetti’s Sales & Marketing Director from 2007-2011 and then a consultant, also completing an MBA at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2012-13) before re-joining Ferretti Group in 2014. He speaks Italian, English, French and Spanish, and his passions include sailing.
Cover star of Issue 61, Ferretti Yachts’ new five-cabin flagship 1000 features a remarkable flow between its outdoor areas from beach club to flybridge to foredeck, while IdeaeItalia’s interiors focus on natural light, colour and great views. And keep an eye out, as the first hull in Asia will arrive early next year. By Clare Mahon.