The Managing Director of the Ferretti Group, Alberto Galassi, paints a very positive picture of his first few years in charge of the company
by Francesco Michienzi photo by Alberto Cocchi, Stefano Mazzola and Maurizio Paradisi
A successful leader definitely has very clear ideas about goals and the strategies needed to achieve them. Over recent years Alberto Galassi, CEO of Ferretti Group, has demonstrated that a company can influence the market with its values. The figures unquestionably back him up.
«This is a record year for the Ferretti Group, which closed the last financial year with production worth 623 million, EBIDTA of 59 million and, above all, a net profit of around 24 million euros after tax. We are celebrating fifty years of the Ferretti Yachts brand with a level of financial solidity we have never experienced before». There is a specific explanation for these results.
«A total change of management, with new people from different backgrounds, not just yachting, the investment of ninety-one million euros in 2014, of which fifty million went into research and development and the renewal of our product range. 68% of our turnover comes from new models».
Alberto Galassi is a plain-speaking man and doesn’t beat about the bush when saying what he thinks. «While the yachting industry was faring very badly, the Ferretti Group was no exception. The 2013 financial year was extremely negative despite being taken over by Weichai in 2012». What was going wrong in the Ferretti Group? «To start with the management wasn’t working. Companies are made up of men and women, not machines and industrial facilities. The frontline of sixteen managers was changed completely, so that there are now seven. What’s more, the focus was on an old product range». In order to take on this challenge, Alberto Galassi asked shareholders for the necessary resources to put his plan into action. «A further eighty million euros were invested following a disastrous year in 2013. It seems natural to question how many Italian entrepreneurs would have done this? I’m often asked ‘what are you doing with the Chinese’? I say it’s just as well we have them, because they don’t take a short-term industrial view, but instead look at things on a very long-term basis, meaning that they had no problem believing it was a question of people and products; people can be changed, products have to be made and a plan was launched for a range of thirty models within three years».
It wasn’t just a winning bet, but also one that changed the group’s profitability. «We were making products guided by the possibility to be competitively priced on the market. We did away with this idea and listened to a few other market requirements. The Custom Line range had been practically abolished. We relaunched it and now these boats are the group’s bestsellers. We’ve made Rivas with flybridges that no longer existed. We’ve sold twelve Riva Corsaro and eight Riva 110 Dolcevita, both boats that didn’t exist. We’ve also introduced entry-level yachts, such as the Ferretti Yachts 450, the Pershing 5X with IPS and the Pershing 9X. We will be presenting five brand new products at the Cannes boat show: the Custom Line 120’, Custom Line Navetta 42, Riva 110’ Dolcevita, Riva 66’ Ribelle and Ferretti Yachts 670’». The latter made its world debut at the Venetian Arsenal, where Ferretti Yachts celebrated its 50th anniversary. A success underscored by the growth of the yachting market, which has practically used up all the production capacity of the group’s various yards.
«We’re close to production saturation. We’re building three new units in Ancona, which will house the Superyacht Division of CRN, Riva, Pershing Superyacht and Custom Line. La Spezia will be dedicated entirely to Riva and we are currently on the lookout for other production sites».
Let’s talk about pleasure ships too, as this segment of the market seems to be struggling a bit. «CRN sold a 62-metre yacht in the Far East. It was a complex transaction, with very long negotiations lasting almost one year. I think this is the fault of the market, which is saturated with offers from yards that are selling discounts rather than boats. I therefore ask myself: is this relevant or irrelevant to our company? For us it’s totally irrelevant. The Ferretti Group is churning out profits and turnover. The margin on this product range is merely complementary. In strategic terms we don’t want to lose the ability to build boats that truly excel, but every so often we say no. When they present us with offers that we believe to be truly scandalous, with a very low margin of profit given the risk involved and the technical difficulty associated with producing a 70-metre yacht, we prefer to get up from the table and leave the sales to others. I should repeat that we don’t sell discounts». Your approach to the process of technological development has been fundamental to the creation of a modern boat yard.
«I’m a growing believer in the use of carbon, primarily for the superstructure. I also believe strongly in the development of the Volvo Penta IPS system, because it simplifies boat use. We can consider hybrid boats, but not electric ones. Our clients won’t do without fridges, air conditioning, stabilisers, televisions and washing machines, and so I would rule out the development of large-scale electric yachts». Can you tell us what the market is like for fast boats at this moment in time, given the huge demand for slower vessels?
«We have a brand that is faster than all the rest. We make combat ‘aircraft’ in Mondolfo, our ‘Falcon Town’, the city of pure speed. We have clients who get angry if the Pershing 82 does 52.5 knots instead of 54 knots. They’re owners who will fight a battle or crusade for an extra knot, as if it were a matter of life and death. Naturally, this is a niche we are proud of. We undoubtedly occupy a place of technological leadership that is reflected in everything we do. However, the world is heading towards the pleasure of slow, displacement cruising, with low fuel consumption. Despite this, our brand will never leave extreme performances behind, because there is still a big demand for this worldwide and we’re now the only ones catering to it».
A healthy industrial group with shareholders with great financial capacity suggests that you might also invest in other associated sectors, such as marinas or services.
«No, we prefer to focus on our core business. We want to boost our product lines. However, we have considered refitting. There are hundreds of our boats around the world that need maintenance and servicing. We would like to look after them in our own facilities, especially in the Mediterranean area. We are thinking about the refitting and servicing sector, but not about marinas and other activities» Where Alberto Galassi sees the Ferretti Group in ten years? «I think it will be a completely different size, quite a lot bigger. Ferretti Security and Defence is going well and will start to produce results. However, we won’t be stopping here and will acquire more both in production and other terms. We have the financial capacity and if a good opportunity comes our way we won’t ignore it. However, it has to be an intelligent purchase of something complementary and not just for the sake of it».
(Alberto Galassi, we like challenges – Barchemagazine.com – Settembre 2018)