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Sunseeker targets the U.S. for continued growth

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U.K. motoryacht builder Sunseeker has seen its North American sales grow strongly in the last two years, pushed by a demand for larger models. Sunseeker USA President Sean Robertson told Trade Only Today that the average size of its yacht exported to the U.S. has risen since 2017.

Sunseeker USA President Sean Robertson

Sunseeker USA President Sean Robertson

“From 2010 to 2015, it was a fairly unpredictable market,” says Robertson. “We couldn’t really count on the boat shows. Then in 2016, we saw the market come back in a robust way, with sales from 40 to 60 feet. Selling a boat over 70 feet was a random thing. Now we’re selling 20-plus-boats over 70 feet into the U.S. market every year.”

Robertson said that about half of the production for its 76-foot motoryacht is now exported to the U.S. “We believe that in this market, 60 to 90 feet is now key,” he said.

At the Miami Yacht Show, Robertson said that there were some signs that the U.S. market may have “plateaued,” but added that it still remains a “strong market” for the U.K. builder.

“The good thing about the U.S. is that we can continue to grow market share, especially with Sea Ray dropping its yacht division,” he said. “There are also other opportunities within this market for the right model.” Part of the reason for Sunseeker exhibiting at Miami was to find buyers from other brands like Azimut, Ferretti and Viking.

Sunseeker has recently introduced a number of new models, including an 80-foot motoryacht called Project 8X, which shows the new direction of the brand, according to Robertson. The builder also announced a new 161-foot aluminum superyacht that is being built by ICON Yachts in the Netherlands.

Sunseeker realized there was a market for an aluminum superyacht because clients of its composites, including its 155 Yacht, were asking for larger models. “This isn’t just a ‘badge-engineering’ exercise,” he said. “This new yacht combines the aluminum build expertise of ICON with our DNA and technical expertise. She will be a Sunseeker.” The boat is scheduled to be launched in 2021.

“This partnership allows us to bring series production to a much larger size, which is ICON’s intention as well,” says Robertson. “The feedback we’ve heard from competitors is that they’re worried by this collaboration. It’s a new opportunity that none of them have been able to accomplish themselves.”

There have also been rumors that Sunseeker plans to launch a 38-ft. center console model, though no details have been released. The company announced earlier that it is building a hybrid model in partnership with Rolls-Royce, which will be scheduled to launch later next year.

Last November, Sunseeker named Christian Marti, a former executive with Aston Martin, as its chief executive officer. “He has a luxury product background that will serve us well in this segment,” says Robertson.

Robertson said the company will continue with its fast pace of new-product development. That will be accelerated with its recent hire of Andrea Frabetti as chief technical officer. Frabetti had worked as vice president of product development with the Ferretti Group for 25 years and was responsible for a number of innovations across the Italian yacht builder’s nine brands.

“Andrea will lead the company forward in new technologies and designs,” says Robertson. “He will really be responsible for how we evolve. Our five-year plan is more about evolution rather than revolution.”

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