Freedom Boat Club is moving forward with its relationship with Groupe Beneteau after being acquired by Brunswick, holding two grand openings in France in late June that it opened through its partnership with Groupe Beneteau.
“They want us to keep doing what we’re doing,” Freedom Boat Club founder John Giglio told Trade Only Today. “Beneteau and Jeanneau are good customers of [Brunswick-owned] Mercury, so they have a relationship outside of the boat world. We have no plans right now to change anything we’re doing through our European growth with Beneteau. We’re still looking at the Cadillac brands — some of the franchisees are using those — and it doesn’t appear that’s going to change.”
Louis Chemi, vice president of Freedom Boat Club’s franchise business, participated in two grand opening events at franchise locations in France at the ports of La Rochelle and Carnon. New members, prospects, press, key Jeanneau personnel and local dignitaries contributed to the crowds of 75 to 100 at each location.
Each FBC location in France has four Jeanneau outboard-powered boats as well as a RIB.
“While these locations have been opened since mid-May, the events celebrated the kick-off to the key boating season in France, as well as FBCs official entry into the European market,” said Chemi.
Moving forward, Freedom Boat Club already has a third location opened in the Atlantic port of Pornic and several more planned. Two weeks ago, a Fort Myers, Fla.-based club member was the first to use the networks’ reciprocity policy by taking a boat out from the Carnon franchisee, said Chemi.
So far, the transition to being owned by Brunswick has largely been business as usual, said Giglio.
“We have some tools now that we obviously did not have before,” said Giglio. “I think it’s going to be great for the long-term benefit of the club, and it’s going to be great for Brunswick. Everybody is talking about market softening, and we’re coming into an election year. Brunswick has got a steady flow of customers with our customers, and with our franchisees, so I think that all and all, it’s going to be very positive.”