Motoring

Investment in Camper & Nicholsons Ensures Asian Growth

Camper & Nicholsons charges ahead with new investment plans and an eye on the chartering business on an international level

Sep 04, 2018 | By Joe Lim

Yacht Style Director Olivier Burlot spoke with Lester Lam, Chairman of the acclaimed agency Camper & Nicholsons Asia, in Hong Kong recently and the interview revealed some interesting insights on how the company is moving forward in the future.

From L to R: Bart Kimman, Lester Lam, Michael Cheung and Olivier Burlot

Why is it a good investment going forward? What is your expected return?
Despite continued uncertainty surrounding the global economy, the ultra-rich continue to spend US$ 22bn on yachts each year. For reference, Credit Suisse’s table of top-five UHNWIs (ultra-high net worth individuals) by country, includes well-known super-yacht markets USA, Germany, UK and France, while the as yet elusive China market holds the third place in this grouping. With the existing UHNWI network Lai Sun Group has in Asia, it can help Camper & Nicholsons to capture this market and accelerate the growth of yachting culture in Asia. The market itself is experiencing a positive trend with the current fleet of 5,164 superyachts projected to grow by 17% to 6,044 by 2020.

Why is it a good investment going forward? What is your expected return?
Despite continued uncertainty surrounding the global economy, the ultra-rich continue to spend US$ 22bn on yachts each year. For reference, Credit Suisse’s table of top-five UHNWIs (ultra-high net worth individuals) by country, includes well-known super-yacht markets USA, Germany, UK and France, while the as yet elusive China market holds the third place in this grouping. With the existing UHNWI network Lai Sun Group has in Asia, it can help Camper & Nicholsons to capture this market and accelerate the growth of yachting culture in Asia. The market itself is experiencing a positive trend with the current fleet of 5,164 superyachts projected to grow by 17% to 6,044 by 2020.

With this acquisition, how do you leverage and create synergies with your existing businesses?
Lai Sun Group is a Hong Kong-based group of companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with businesses ranging from luxury real estate development, hotel management, entertainment and F&B in Hong Kong, China and overseas. Over the years, the group has established a strong database of UHNW clientele, many of whom also share the same passion for the sea and yachting. The synergy created between Camper & Nicholsons and this group can facilitate the promotion of the yachting industry as a whole. At the same time, this also provides an ideal opportunity for Camper & Nicholsons to penetrate the Asian market by speaking the same language and understanding the cultural differences. We believe this is a dynamic element that Lai Sun Group can add to Camper & Nicholsons. Our clients are also looking for a reliable partner. Camper & Nicholsons is the only yacht services provider backed up by a listed company. It gives clients tremendous confidence to know that the services they receive is not just from an experienced broker, but a broker who is backed up by diversified teams in sales, charter, finance, yacht management and insurance which are all supported by strong shareholders.

Lady Azul, a 40m Heesen, is one of the Asian waters vessels under C&N management

With this acquisition, how do you leverage and create synergies with your existing businesses?
Lai Sun Group is a Hong Kong-based group of companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with businesses ranging from luxury real estate development, hotel management, entertainment and F&B in Hong Kong, China and overseas. Over the years, the group has established a strong database of UHNW clientele, many of whom also share the same passion for the sea and yachting. The synergy created between Camper & Nicholsons and this group can facilitate the promotion of the yachting industry as a whole. At the same time, this also provides an ideal opportunity for Camper & Nicholsons to penetrate the Asian market by speaking the same language and understanding the cultural differences. We believe this is a dynamic element that Lai Sun Group can add to Camper & Nicholsons. Our clients are also looking for a reliable partner. Camper & Nicholsons is the only yacht services provider backed up by a listed company. It gives clients tremendous confidence to know that the services they receive is not just from an experienced broker, but a broker who is backed up by diversified teams in sales, charter, finance, yacht management and insurance which are all supported by strong shareholders.

What are Camper & Nicholsons’ main areas of excellence? Tell us more about the background and values of the company?
As the world’s leading full service yachting company, our customers expect us to excel in all aspects of the services we provide. Because of the longevity and prestige of the brand, our customers drive us to provide high-quality services catering to their diverse needs. Camper & Nicholsons has a worldwide network of offices with nine divisions that work hand in hand to provide a professional service in all aspects of yacht brokerage, management, new construction, charter, charter marketing, crew placement, refit and repair, insurance and finance. Apart from brokerage services, we are the leader in both yacht management and charter marketing. Peter McCarthy, director of the Yacht Management Division, joined Camper & Nicholsons Yacht Management Services in 1990 and was regarded as the pioneer in this field. Today, he manages with his team today over 45,000 gross tonnes and more than 2,800 meters of yachts, allowing the owner to truly enjoy a hassle-free yachting experience. In charter marketing, we have one of the most comprehensive yacht fleets in the industry with over 90 yachts under Camper & Nicholsons charter management. Camper & Nicholsons is one of the most important luxury service providers in the yachting industry. This is our greatest strength. We are a global company with a great team of professionals that are leaders now and for years to come. About 100 yachts in our central agency are for sale. Over 65 large yachts are under management, and there are almost 90 in our charter fleet. We offer some of the most competitive services in the industry. All this makes us today probably the most global and “client centric” company in the industry.

Which component of Camper & Nicholsons offerings has the greatest potential for growth in the short to medium term? Charters?
Yes, particularly new destinations in Asia-Pacific and Antarctica. Experienced charterers are looking for something outside the Caribbean or the Med, and new Asian charterers are looking for unique experiences on their doorstep. Surely, your first clients and prospects consist of your close Chinese friends and connections.

Saluzi, one of Asia’s most spectacular charter yachts, now has C&N as central agents

How would you describe ‘the Chinese way’ to use and charter a yacht? In what ways do Chinese follow a different luxury lifestyle, in terms of their typical profiles, specific requests and services sought?
If you are referring to my close Chinese friends, they are no different to most of the European charterers. They are looking for a unique charter and experience. I have friends who charter in Norway via us, and here we will soon be offering the possibility of Antarctic experiences. I do however notice, regarding mainland Chinese customers, that they like travelling in bigger groups. Hence yachts like our 69m Saluzi or 63m Aqua Mekong are very popular. They can take more than 30 passengers each. For example, if river cruising aboard Aqua Mekong, the rate is about US$120,000 for a 3 nights 4 days all-inclusive charter, which means roughly US$3,800 per person. This is a very good entry point for the Asian charterer who’s looking for a unique experience in Asian waters. We decided to launch an office in Phuket in April this year and are pleased to have Bart Kimman and his team with us. Our charter team in Phuket and Hong Kong have extensive experience dealing with Asian charters, from helping clients to choose their unique yacht and location for their upcoming holiday, planning details of their trip, making recommendations on restaurant booking and exclusive golf courses and vineyards, to helping yacht owners set up their vessel and crew for charter, before launching global marketing campaigns for such yachts.

Chartering a yacht or looking at buying one, how do you tackle these kinds of sensitive questions?
Funny enough, my friends normally start the conversation with “I want to buy a yacht” or “I want to charter a yacht”. My family has had various yachts for many years, and my father and I chartered intensively before, so it’s normal when my friends think about yacht, they think of asking my advice. Now that they know we are involved in Camper & Nicholsons, it makes even more sense for them to approach us for our first-hand experience as customers to advise them and also to be in a position to provide them what they want. Having this experience and knowing our customers allow us to guide them through what is normally a yachting journey rather than a one-off event. Of course we don’t do this alone, and one of the reasons we chose Camper & Nicholsons is because of the excellent work they do for customers.

Do you believe that Asians can adopt a yachting culture and grow faster than other regions?
Yes, definitely. You only have to look at the phenomenal growth and cultural changes in China in recent years to see what is possible in many different sectors, not just yachting. There are many different parties involved though, and without support from them all, you could see the potential curbed. We all have a role to play in supporting Asian yachting. Relevant parties include government, media, the overall infrastructure set up, and international firm like us. The potential is there, and owners are constantly looking for quality yachts.

Charter team of Camper & Nicholsons Asia from left to right: Lies Sol (Charter Marketing), Kay Monney (Charter Marketing), Sytske Kimman (Charter Broker) and Wenny Chow (Charter Broker)

How do you see yachting developing in Asia and in Hong Kong in particular with the urgent need of marina berthing?
As a close advisor of ‘One Belt One Road’ project (the world’s most ambitious China Silk Road project), I strongly believe infrastructures are key for any kind of development and this is particularly true in the case of yachting. There are definitely not enough well-equipped marinas with high-end facilities in Asia. We are looking at this space with great attention, an area which could be at the very core of Camper & Nicholsons future development across the region. We are all aware of the critical need for berthing facilities in Hong Kong and keen to know how the government is going to address this issue. Recent in-depth studies conducted across Hong Kong shared some interesting views on the territory’s future development. There is a high chance that Lantau will be chosen as the most ideal location for a much-wanted future marina.

How do you see Camper & Nicholsons in 10 years? What will have evolved in the yachting field?
Our industry today is too fragmented. There are still too many players in a market that has changed a lot since the last crisis. In the coming years, we will see a consolidation. Some companies will merge, while others will be sold to shareholders who are capable of developing a new approach to the market. Camper & Nicholsons first recognised this new world, and is a leader in this era of change. In future, I see Camper & Nicholsons in a strong position of leadership, driving change through the innovation of the business model, the launch of new projects, the introduction of technology, the continuous acquisition of new skills as well as opening of alliances to become stronger and yet more global.

 

 


 
Back to top