Hatteras and Cabo see a rebound in sales

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ward2Hatteras and Cabo Yachts have seen an uptick in sales and activity in the six weeks since the brands’ sale from Brunswick Corp. to Philadelphia-based private equity firm Versa Capital Management LLC.

“I think that finally getting the news that the company has been sold and that it’s owned by a U.S. private equity company has been a really good thing … in that there were customers on the sidelines waiting to see what the final sale and acquisition would look like,” Hatteras and Cabo president and CEO John Ward told Trade Only Today.

Buyers have stepped forward in the last six weeks to make purchases, whereas prior to Aug. 6, “we were struggling to get customers because they were wondering ‘Who will buy the company? Where will my boats be built? Will they shut it down? Will they move it to China?’ ”

Consumers are comforted by the fact that the boats are continuing to be built in New Bern, N.C., and that it was bought by a privately held U.S. company, Ward said, and the fact that the buyer is keeping the management team that helped the divestiture has been positive for the brands’ revival.

“We’re known entities to the industry, to our dealers and, in many instances, to our customers and that is a very comforting thing because it’s not like they’re going to bring in a whole new management team or make all these radical changes,” he said.

Moving forward, both brands will develop products with broad global appeal to ramp up the exporting arms of the businesses, Ward said.

Two international buyers have already purchased a new flagship motoryacht, the Hatteras 100 Raised Pilothouse, which won’t be unveiled until the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

“Think about purchasing a $9 million MSRP yacht based on only a picture and specifications,” Ward said. “I think that lends to who we are, that customers have that much faith and confidence about what we can deliver from a product standpoint.”

The fact that the two boats have been sold to international buyers is also encouraging, he said. “We know our motoryachts have always been well suited for American buyers. That’s part of our rich history, heritage and legacy. But to see international customers start to take a liking to our new motoryachts is encouraging.”

The brands’ heritage was part of the appeal to Versa, Ward said. “Hatteras and Cabo are truly two global, iconic brands. I will tell you, in the last year, half our sales for both brands have been to international customers. As I travel and talk to our dealers, both brands are known all over the world. That puts us ahead of a lot of people who have the product, but don’t have the brand. It gives you a leg up.”

Click here for the first of two parts of Trade Only’s discussion with John Ward.

— Reagan Haynes

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