JFA Yachts celebrates its 30 years

It is in the spring of 1993 in Concarneau that JFA Yachts commenced the construction of its first boat. Since then, the French shipyard, that celebrates this year its 30th anniversary, has delivered numerous remarkable projects, be it sailing or motor yachts. Nowadays, JFA Yachts is known worldwide as a specialist not only in the construction of unique custom yachts but also in the maintenance and refit of large yachts.

At a time when JFA Yachts’ teams work on the largest yacht ever built in-house or when the yard diversifies into new markets, Frederic Jaouen and Frederic Breuilly, the Shipyard’s founders, as well as Brigitte Jaouen-Guennec and Michel Siou, the Shipyard’s longstanding partners, undertake a change of ownership process that once completed will enable three collaborators to take the lead. Such process aims at ensuring, in the years to come, the shipyard’s continuity and development in the Port of Concarneau, to which the shipyard remains inextricably anchored.

A peculiar both human and technical adventure

Frederic Jaouen recalls with pleasure that he was born in Concarneau, just in front of JFA Yachts’ premises. His decision to found the shipyard, around the Port of Concarneau just came naturally along with his friend Frederic Breuilly. The rich human and industrial network will have enhanced the shipyard’s significant development in terms of infrastructures, know-how and industrial partner networks, attractiveness to clients, new coworkers and their families.

The shipyard’s coworkers, whether born in the region or coming from afar, remain deeply and durably anchored to Concarneau. Pivotal assets in a field where know-how and technical exigence are at the core of it all. JFA Yachts reunites around fifty employees working together in their corresponding teams within the shipyard facilities: metal workers, welders, mechanics, cabinet makers, composite specialists, engineers and technicians, administrative and sales executives…

The Port of Concarneau has also gone through a series of transformations. JFA has, since 1998, invested in its own facilities which progressively extended. Nowadays, the shipyard owns there an impressive number of halls, without including the offices, built along Quai des Seychelles and more recently a new hall dedicated to composite construction.

“When you are into custom made, you hardly ever build the same thing twice one right after the other…”

Devoted to the construction of unique yachts, different in every way from those of the serial production market, JFA Yachts stands out by the eclecticism of their realizations throughout the years. Recalling only a few of them is not easy. However, among the most emblematic yachts built by the shipyard, we can quote the following ones:

  • Kermor (1993), JFA Yachts’ first delivery, a 23m sloop sailboat renamed Runaway Bunny;
  • Axantha (2003) JFA’s first motor yacht, measuring 37m in length. The owner will be so happy to the point of ordering a second one, some years later, keeping the same features but significantly bigger in size (Axantha II – 43m, delivered in 2011);
  • Hortense (2009) JFA’s, a 29m motor sailor that has sailed all the oceans including the Antarctic one.
  • Bystander (2007), a neoclassical motor yacht and escort vessel of Class J Velsheda, which won worldwide notoriety and was awarded the prize to the most beautiful yacht by the International Superyacht Society in the United States;
  • mousetrap (2012), the largest sailing catamaran ever built in carbon fiber at the time (33,50m).
  • WindQuest (2014) a 27m catamaran, the first from the “semi-custom” Long Island series (three units delivered in 2014, 2018 and 2021, respectively).
  • And, now, a 50m motor yacht under construction in the Shipyard’s largest hall, the longest boat ever laid down by JFA Yachts!

Simultaneously, and since its beginnings in the 1990s, JFA Yachts has always carried out maintenance and refit works on large boats, whether sailing or motor boats, ultra-modern or old boats. For instance, Magistral in 1999, a schooner entirely rebuilt and enlarged; Guillemot, a 42m modern sailing yacht or the legendary sailing boats Mariquita (1911) and Moonbeam IV (1914), two classic yachts designed by the renowned English architect William Fife.

As a result, this represents 31 very different newbuilds and more than 45 boats that undertook refit or maintenance. One of the strengths of JFA Yachts is to have been able to develop references both on the sailboat market and the motor yacht market, in monohulls as well as multihulls and in many different construction materials. The common point of all these custom units is that most of these boats are sailing intensively and sometimes in remote destinations.

Three associate employees to take the lead.

The founders, Frederic Jaouen, JFA Yacht’s President; Frederic Breuilly, Production Director and Brigitte Jaouen, Director of Administration and Finance were soon backed up by Michel Siou, Project Manager. Frederic Breuilly is nowadays retired, but the other three partners remain at post!

Nonetheless, having in mind to ensuring the shipyard’s continuity, they have launched a taking over process giving themselves all the chances to succeed. This process, to be completed within five or six years, started last February while Brigitte Jaouen and Frederic Breuilly transferred their shares. Frédéric Jaouen and Michel Siou remains partners and keep their respective functions of CEO and Project Manager.

Their project prioritizes human values and local anchoring. “In order to not weaken the shipyard, we chose to give a chance to longstanding collaborators having backgrounds similar to ours and a real knowledge of our business lines”, expresses Frederic Jaouen.

Three associates have decided to continue this human and entrepreneurial adventure.

Gael Douguet, Sales manager, who came in contact with the shipyard in 1999 before joining the crew in 2004.

Vincent Balouin, Technical and project management director, joined the shipyard in 2005.

Dominique Rouchon, project manager for interior works, joined the shipyard in 2008.

All together, these new shareholders amount to fifty-year experience and can count on the renewed commitment from Frederic Jaouen as President.

They will become controlling shareholders in the medium term thanks to the guidance of a reference shareholder, BFR Investissements represented by Eric Brulé.

Eric Brulé emphasizes that this change of ownership is an opportunity for the shipyard to benefit from the competences and motivation of their buyer partners. It is also great news that Frederic Jaouen has decided to perpetuate the company and, therefore, to ensure its continuity in Concarneau.

What comes next?

The three controlling shareholders in their complementary roles will continue working in their domain expertise but always having in mind the following common goals:

– To continue developing the shipyard’s historical market niche: the construction of custom super yachts like the 50-metre one currently under construction,

– To reinforce the Long Island catamaran series,

– To perform refit projects regularly,

– To continue developing the shipyard competences in terms of composite construction in order to extend their offer to new developing markets in the composite construction field. It is worth mentioning that JFA Yachts has already delivered 2 yacht tenders and started the year with the construction of an 18m pilot boat for the French Lighthouses and Beacons Service.

JFA Yachts’ versatility in association with its collaborators, passionate about their fields of expertise, are undoubtedly the shipyard’s strongest assets enabling to durably ensure its continuity on the yacht building European and French market

(JFA Yachts celebrates its 30 years – barchemagazine.com – June 2023)