SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS Interview: Thibaut de Montvalon, Beneteau Group
The Lagoon 42 is one of the many yachts that will be docked at the Raffles Marina for SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS and Thibaut de Montvalon of Beneteau tells us what is in store.
The Lagoon 42 is about to make waves at the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS, the luxury lifestyle event happening this week, October 20-23. Brought to Raffles Marina by Beneteau Group and Simpson Marine, the prestigious yacht will be on display during the 3-day event, as announced in Simpson Marine’s press release – read the full version here.
Making her debut at this lifestyle event is the Lagoon 42, an award winning model which was launched earlier this year in January 2016. Since her launch she has sold over 100 units and also won two awards. Her accolades include ‘Best Multihull Sailing Yacht’ award at Asia Boating Awards and recently winner of the Multihull category at Sailing Today Awards in Southampton Boat Show last month.
Before we immerse ourselves in the fun-filled weekend that will see the Lagoon 42 as one of the luxury yachts on display, we engage Thibaut de Montvalon, Director of Beneteau Group Asia Pacific in a brief conversation. He tells us about the brand’s growing presence in Asia and what is in store for visitors at the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS.
Give us some background on the Beneteau Group ? How does it perform today on a worldwide basis ?
The Beneteau Group is the world’s number one sailing yacht builder – both mono and multi-hull – and a global market leader for motorboats. The Group’s strategic roadmap is based on four pillars: building on its position as the world leader for sailing yachts, continuing to develop its business on the motorboat market, expanding its range to include larger units and lastly, further strengthening its presence in the North American market.
These four strategic areas, which have been guiding the Group’s development for several years, are especially relevant as the global recreational boat market is growing again for the first time since 2008-09. This growth is being driven primarily by the upturn in the European market and continued growth in the American market. This buoyant environment has enabled the Group to improve its profitability.
As far as Asia is concerned, the Beneteau Group has a long term commitment to the region as it set up its first Asia branch back in 2005 in Shanghai, to focus on the Asian market and develop its market share in the region. Asia is still a rather small market for us as a Group but we believe in its future and we are committed to participate to its development.
Where are you based in Asia? In a few words, how is your dealership network organized ?
We relocated our Asia Regional Office from Shanghai to Hong Kong last year and took over the management of the Pacific area in addition to Asia. From our Asia Pacific office, we are now managing a network of 32 dealers – 18 in Asia and 14 in the Pacific – ranging from Vladivostok, through Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and French Polynesia! We are very proud to have the largest network of distributors in Asia and the Pacific and, just as importantly, incredible teams of professionals distributing and servicing our brands.
This is key in our strategy: we look for the best professionals in one market and we are building relationships for the long run. Another one of our objectives is to step-in early in a new market. We’re always scouting for emerging boating markets and we aim to take part in the development of the boating culture in these new destinations.
There has been a strong focus on the launch of the MONTE CARLO Yachts 80, how important is this range of motor yachts in Asia ?
Monte Carlo Yachts is strategic for us in Asia. There is a strong demand for luxury motor yachts in the region and a request for new, outstanding designs.
Asian yachtsmen and yachtswomen have high expectations and always look for the latest styles and values. This suits Monte Carlo Yachts beautifully as our yachts are made to be unique, namely thanks to the talent of Nuvolari & Lenard, our designers, and thanks to the innovative building process we are implementing in our Italian shipyard.
Additionally Monte Carlo Yachts offer unrivaled flexibility when it comes to customization. Once again we aim to build unique yachts perfectly aligned with each owner’s tastes and aspirations.
Our latest MCY 80, which was launched in July and presented at the Cannes boat show in September, is a pure example of this Monte Carlo Yachts promise: unforgettable lines and an outstanding level of finish in every detail. We are very pleased with her success and already have a yacht on the way to Asia for one of our customers.
The Lagoon range continues to enjoy strong success in Asia. It has almost become synonymous with catamarans. How do you explain the success of the Lagoon range ?
Lagoon is indeed a great success in Asia, and all around the world. We refer to Lagoon as the boating success story as the brand was launched in the 1980s, based on a vision according to which catamarans would become popular in the future. It was a gamble which Lagoon is winning. Catamarans are becoming increasingly popular especially in Asia as clients appreciate the volumes and stability you can find on such boats.
The reason why Lagoon is performing better than any other brand lies in three factors: the ingenuity of the design from VPLP, simply the best multihull designers in the world, which offers incredible space, is light and has good functionality while preserving performances at sea. The quality of the yacht is also essential as it is not an easy matter to build a catamaran. The physics and loads involved are complex; the ability to consistently build good boats is also challenging. The strength of the Lagoon brand through our thousands of loyal owners who are circumnavigating the globe as our best ambassadors and of course our distributors who, once again, perform an exceptional job at promoting and servicing our yachts.
Your group will be displaying a Lagoon 42 at the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS, what are the specificities of this Catamaran ?
The Lagoon 42 is a new model launched in January at the Dusseldorf boat show. She has met her market as we have already sold more than 100 units of this particular model worldwide!
You can spot her strong personality at first sight, combining modern, dynamic lines and flowing curves. On board, the focus is on the living space, with incredible volumes, comfort and amenities. When it comes to sailing, the Lagoon 42 has already made a name for itself, to be performing outstandingly. This is namely thanks to the latest generation of rigging and the sail plan Lagoon has developed, which increases performances under sail while simplifying maneuvres.
The Lagoon 42 is presented for the first time in Asia at the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS.
What are the actions taken by the BENETEAU group to lead more Asians to discover and enjoy the yachting lifestyle ?
If I was to list all the actions we implement across Asia in terms of yachting lifestyle, the list would be too long! As you can imagine, through the years since we have been active in the region and thanks to our extensive distribution network, we keep a busy agenda! On the sailing front for example we are involved with a number of regattas all across Asia. In each of these regattas we aim to have one or two boats which we manage and we invite on-board guests and owners, to experience yacht racing together with our team of passionate sailors.
On a less competitive front we are partnering with sailing schools and charter companies to promote sailing culture and encourage people to go boating across Asia, during their holidays. On the power boat front we organize a sport fishing competition, called Barracuda Tour. We run Open Days, where we welcome guests and owners to experience our new models. We also organize Owner’s Rendez-Vous, where clients go to discover new destinations together as a group, under our supervision. And of course, we host numerous parties and dinners on board our yachts, at sea or in the marinas and yacht clubs.
Chartering a yacht or looking at buying one, how do you tackle this sensitive question ?
In my opinion, this question is irrelevant. Owning a yacht and chartering one are as complementary as owning a property and visiting hotels, or spending holidays in resorts. I can think of many yacht owners who charter yachts on a regular basis.
I see charter as a stepping stone to becoming a yacht owner: you get to experience life on board, see how it feels, share the experience with your friends and family, try different types of boats. This is one aspect of yacht chartering. The other aspect is the ability to extend your horizon, discovering new boating grounds. Yacht charter is a means to combine the love of yachting with travels and holidays abroad. To that extent, I believe that Asia has some of the best boating destinations.
Your best experience on the sea in Asia ?
I recall two experiences. The first one is discovering Phang Nga Bay, in Phuket and Koh Lipe near Langkawi, as skipper of a sailing yacht (a charter yacht actually!) with my family on board. We invited our parents from Europe and cruised between Thailand and Malaysia. To me, cruising is simply the best and purest way to discover a new destination.
The second experience was yacht racing in the China Cup as crew for Michel Desjoyeaux. He is a famous skipper, a French sailing legend. I was, all at the same time, proud to get him participating in one of the Asian regattas with our Beneteau team and humbled to witness his talent, and experience as a member of his crew.