I joined Berthon July 2020 – or I should say, re-joined, as I have been with Berthon through two spells in the past.
I started my “brokerage career” at Berthon International in Lymington in late 1979 following a summer in the marina office. Starting with the filing and making the tea I gradually became involved in sales so that by 1981 I was selling yachts – although if I could remember that far back it was probably with assistance. In 1987 I became a member of ABYA. I stayed at Berthon until March 1991 when I moved to Mallorca. I also worked for Berthon for a period between 2003 and 2008, helping them set up the first incarnation of Berthon Spain.
Berthon Spain was reincarnated when Berthon joined forces with Andrew Fairbrass (Sentinel Yachting) in 2018. Initially this was a service, maintenance and refit set up only but gradually, over time with the UK office and Spain co-operating, yacht sales were incorporated.
My arrival in July 2020 (from Northrop & Johnson) has now really enabled the start of a “full brokerage” service by Berthon in Mallorca. We have established a new designated sales office – close to the Club de Mar marina and close to all the main Palma marinas.
As ever, my timing has been impeccable … I started my last venture in summer 2008! – and this year has of course, also had its challenges.
In October Ben Toogood joined me in the office. He has come from Berthon in Lymington where he has worked for 12 years as motor yacht broker and as sales manager of new motor boat brands including Windy and Pearl. Whilst my experience is largely with sailing yachts, Ben has a huge understanding of the motor yacht market and his experience as a broker makes us a very symbiotic team.
We are ably supported by the staff in the separate service office and benefit from sharing information with them.
Coming as I do from a background in selling Nautor Swan yachts, it was no real surprise that the first three yachts that I sold since re-joining Berthon were Swans. The surprise to me at least, has been that clients have, despite world events, very much had the desire to go yachting. The bigger surprise was that some clients took this so far as being prepared to buy without actually seeing first-hand the yacht they were buying. I am not alone in selling to clients by video call, and then with the survey and usual process all handled “remotely”. The Berthon Sales Group became very familiar with this way of working around the pandemic, swapping notes in our weekly calls.
Following on from those beginnings, we have succeeded within the first 6 months with the sales of other yachts in Spain, including a Gunfleet 58, a Shipman 63, an Oyster 72, and a Phoenix 77.
As ever the success comes in part due to teamwork – that is the way we at Berthon work together globally. Our clients are international, but the service is personal.
Given the trying circumstances of 2020, we feel the marine business has been luckier than many other sectors of the economy. However, when it comes to brokerage, we have made our own luck.
Whether buying or selling, clients like to deal with those they know and trust, and also need local on the spot professional assistance should they be buying or selling in another country. This is where we at Berthon excel.
Whilst I am writing this on a gloomy day in Palma (sorry but we do not always have sunshine) and with most countries or areas under some form of “lockdown” or as here with severe restrictions on many business and meeting, it would be easy to feel gloomy about the prospects for this new year. However, from my experience during 2020, I am quite sure that 2021 will have good potential for the brokerage market worldwide. I do not expect it to remain as buoyant but the wish to go sailing and be afloat, sailing or motoring, is clearly still with many people.
We have many challenges. Some of those (Brexit, COVID and so on) are mentioned elsewhere in this publication. But I refer to specific market forces – availability of product being one such point. We are in general short of yachts for sale. Particularly in the sectors that saw higher demand in 2020 (smaller high-quality yachts below 60ft). But also, there are few modern yachts available, those less than say, seven years old.
Between 2009 and 2013 there were far fewer new yachts built and this is now being seen in the market. There are a reasonable number of yachts built pre-2010 available on the market, signalling the large production runs in the years running up to the financial crisis.
So, any of you yacht owners thinking of a change? – Do contact us.
Valuation is a hugely important factor as well. With a changing market buyers and sellers have had to adjust accordingly.
Whilst yachts have been selling, sellers have had to be realistic still. More mature yachts, even those in pristine condition, very well updated and improved have not reached the prices we or the seller may have earlier wished for. I feel that this is due in part to competition from newer and new yachts – plus a growing market trend that as with many commodities today, has seen the market value older yachts much less. This was all predictable.
Overall market forces always prevail – you cannot fight them.
So, at Berthon we embrace the challenges. Just as Berthon USA started trading at the nadir of the financial crash in 2010, Berthon Scandinavia and Berthon Spain Yacht Sales opened their doors in 2020; it is all about the team.
We would appreciate extra listings but have still a good and wide selection of yachts for sale and have added new listings through the last weeks.
To value a listing correctly we gain as much market intelligence as possible (helped by our wide group of offices and huge depth of knowledge within them). Thereafter, it is about diligent work, utilising all platforms for marketing and promotion and professional follow-up. We then have the expertise and knowledge to follow the sale process through to its natural end.
There is great potential still in the yacht market here in Mallorca and in Spain generally. Mallorca really is the sales centre of the west Mediterranean. It is the favoured location for many reasons, not least for the large and professional yacht service industry based here.
Whilst we saw a few empty marina berths this winter (and have seen owners opt for lower cost winter moorings on the mainland), I have no doubt that by the summer the island will be humming again. However, the business here is not all about Spain. Our sales in 2020 also included yachts located in the USA, Sweden, France, The Netherlands.
We represent Berthon International and our listings are owned internationally, located internationally, and sell internationally – but Palma is the hub of the wheel!