Carla Demaria, who is president of Monte Carlo Yachts, board member of the Italian Yachting Federation (UCINA) and general manager of Bénéteau Brand, delivered the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Marine Equipment Trade Show at Amsterdam RAI on Tuesday.
Demaria described during the METS 2014 breakfast briefing how the philosophy of adaptive evolution has paid dividends for Beneteau and Monte Carlo Yachts.
Demaria began her presentation by reminding the audience of how innovation and creativity had guided Bénéteau’s expansion during the past 130 years and enabled it to become the second-largest boat manufacturer in the world and the No. 1 sail manufacturer.
“You cannot last so long in this business without having the right recipe for success,” she said, according to a statement. “Bénéteau has been able to make the tough and even revolutionary decisions required to guide the group through the years.”
Pointing out the near impossibility of making specific predictions for the future of the yachting sector, Demaria stressed that adaptation is the only strategy that can be sustained in the long term.
“Rapid change makes fast actions to those changes indispensable,” she told the group. “In the Bénéteau Group we call this process adaptive evolution — the ability to reduce the time taken to act to changes in the market. We have devised the capability to anticipate the meaning of changes and to continue to deliver the adaptive response required.”
Just before the recession hit in 2008, the Bénéteau Group’s turnover was 1.015 billion euros, but it fell to 659 million euros in 2009. (At today’s exchange rate, those figures represent a change from about $1.27 billion to $826.8 million.)
By making rapid decisions that faced the reality of the new market, the company was able to return its turnover to 921 million euros, or about $1.155 billion, by 2011.
“We were able to recover from a very sticky situation and keep turnover reduction to the short term and to the minimum,” she added. “Although we had to take difficult decisions that required laying off employees, we now employ more people than in 2008 as short-term decisions have bought long-term gains.”