Poised For Perfection – Princess Yachts Shares Its Bright Future
With a forward order book in excess of US$1 billion and close to 3,000 full-time employees, Princess Yachts’ future looks bright and promising.
Kiran Haslam, Marketing Director of Princess Yachts slips in comfortably into the cockpit of the all-new S60 for an interview with Yacht Style magazine during a bustling Singapore Yacht Show. Dressed in a dapper navy blazer and crisp, pin-striped blue shirt, the affable interviewee enthused about the organisation’s glowing report card.
Interestingly, Australian-born Kiran joined Princess Yachts in 2015 after a successful career, starting off in the music industry as an international touring artist and composer, and eventually moving through PR, advertising and publishing to enter the automotive industry with Bentley Motors. With his sharp business acumen, he’s leading the brand’s evolution as it celebrates more than 53 years of timeless design and marine innovation. Owned by the Private Equity arm of LVMH, Princess Yachts is internationally recognised in the industry as the world’s best-selling luxury yacht brand, as well as being highly respected for delivering unsurpassed quality in marine manufacturing. Princess Yachts displayed seven models at this year’s Singapore Yacht Show, and also debuted the striking 30-metre M Class superyacht as an Asian premiere. YACHT STYLE (YS) magazine spent 20 minutes with Kiran Haslam (KH) who shared his insights about Princess Yachts.
YS: Share with us the current state of Princess
KH: This is a wonderful time for the whole industry, actually. Since the global financial crisis, the marketplace has been unstable with only a few marine manufacturers making a profit but now that seems to be changing. What’s really special for us is the incredible success from a strategy implemented several years ago. We now have a forward order book in excess of US$1 billion and that’s record-breaking for our 53-year history. An additional 800 people have been employed in recent months, and that takes our full-time employee headcount close to 3,000 people – all based in the UK across five manufacturing facilities within a 16km radius of our headquarters. We are an incredibly reinvigorated, and recent investments in infrastructure has enabled the business to go into overdrive. With that forward order book, profitability back in the company, and a highly skilled team of craftsmen and craftswomen, we are really poised to
take Princess to the next level, and we are really excited about it!
YS: What has been the most challenging situation?
KH: The yacht industry is all too often misunderstood. From the outside world looking in, it’s very hard to convey the right message. Typically, media will focus on price – emphasising high price tags – without much explanation as to what the actual value of the product is in terms of design, detailed and advanced manufacturing, and of course what a yacht actually affords an owner. The Princess process goes from raw materials to finished product within our factories around Plymouth and we take great pride in crafting them. We have so much passion, pride, and conviction in what we do; we have been doing it for 53 years, producing over 17,000 yachts to date. However, it may still be difficult from the outside world to understand and easily experience that without investing in brand awareness activities. There are very few manufacturers left in the world who are manufacturing such vertically complex products from raw materials to a finished product on their premises. I cannot think of any other iconic British luxury brand that does that with their entire workforce being based in the United Kingdom. We live in a world of third-party supply chains and zero-hour contracts, so for Princess to do completely the opposite is truly a wonderful thing. Getting that message out when I first started at Princess was the immediate challenge. And when we kicked off the “crafted in Plymouth” campaign the key question was “Where do you put that message?” The boat industry is a very alienating industry because it tends to talk to the same people within a small circle. Princess was no exception. We seemed to be really good at selling boats to people who wanted to buy boats from us, but we didn’t bring new people into boating with the same ease. I believe media
has the power to bring new people into the yacht industry because the yachting lifestyle is such a wonderful thing to experience – and once you see it and experience it, it is addictive. The problem is, if you think about how the media tends to portray superyachts, you always stumble across the villain in the movie – yep, and he’s always on a superyacht in the shoot-out scene! That is totally not the reality of who our customers are, as they tend to be self-made, well-respected industry leaders, with a focus on spending time with family and friends whilst aboard. But no one really portrays that image in media – which is why we developed the acclaimed Princess Presents M Class film that shows a real family on their yacht with their actual crew. The integrity of that approach resonated very well in our market.
YS: Any other exciting plans for the company?
KH: Last year we launched six new models and we will launch six new models starting now. Of the six models we launched, the most exciting will be the all-new R Class. This is a truly revolutionary fully carbon fibre 35ft sports yacht, developed together with America’s Cup
contenders BAR Technologies and famed styling house Pininfarina. It utilises Princess Active Foiling System (AFS) and is capable of 50 knots whilst providing handling, comfort and safety that has never before been delivered in a luxury yacht.
YS: Tell us about the new “manga-skewed” ad that has been broadcast.
KH: The western world has always looked at animation in a very patronising way. If you go back to the Hanna-Barbera, or Disney, it was extremely patronising. The humour was mostly slapstick, and characters are exaggerated – so too, movement. Japanese manga or anime was quite the opposite. They are sophisticated and offer conceptually challenging scripts illustrated in a really clever way. I’ve been a huge fan since my early teens – Studio Ghibli films, Akira, Ghost In The Shell, these are all game-changing animations. I don’t know of any other luxury brand that’s using anime to bring something to life – especially not a luxury yacht! Our teaser campaign for the R Class is a world first – the first luxury yacht brand to have a manga-style TV commercial on air right now!
Read about Princess Yachts’ other sterling models.
For more information, watch the manga-style Princess R35 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQTu9yOPoHQ
For more information: www.princessyachts.com