What a truly bizarre, challenging yet great year we have just said goodbye to – 2022 you were extraordinary! Covid fatigue gave way to a much more normal life this year, but as air travel achieved lift off, and normality resumed, at least for the Berthon team in our offices in France, UK, Spain, Sweden and USA, the rumblings and gunfire in Ukraine grew to deafening volumes. The foray that many assumed (and certainly those in the Kremlin) would be a short campaign has turned into a long, harsh and cruel conflict which has touched everyone on the planet.
We have all watched with horror as this situation continues, and all have tried to lend a hand, from a collection for Ukraine supported by everyone at Berthon Boat Company to team members who have taken Ukranians into their homes. With the human tragedy has come a fuel crisis, high interest rates to combat inflation and enormous supply chain problems. The sunny uplands that we glimpsed as Covid abated are now far away.
Covid and the need to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON YACHTING provided extraordinary results for us in 2021, and that same desire to carry on saw the Berthon Sales Group post another set of glittering financial results in 2022. Our worry that everyone who wanted to buy had done so was completely unfounded and the restricted supply of recent, well equipped and maintained brokerage yachts of all hues has kept the market barrelling on. New yacht manufacturers were offering deliveries in 2024 and so this yacht gap keeps brokerage yacht prices high. Supply chain issues have continued to bite, and yards are being forced to deliver yachts in some cases without major equipment like generators and air conditioning, hoping that their dealers can source the equipment locally. We have even heard of new yachts being delivered without engines – they followed on! What a nightmare!
VAT continues to be the gift that keeps on giving in terms of lack of clarity in many areas. This has not been helped by inaccurate reporting on the web and elsewhere. Yacht owners continue to be time poor and getting their yachts positioned has been challenging as shipping prices shot up as container prices ramped by 100s of percent. This situation is now happily changing but it is still important to be aware of the pitfalls. Another subject much talked of this year has been that of yacht finance. The landscape here has changed massively in the last 5 years and a new way of working is now making the situation more stable, as solid funders are available in the market. You will find articles about these subjects further forward in this publication.
Aside from the situation in Ukraine, you simply couldn’t make up some of the other stuff that has flickered across our screens – 3 prime ministers in the UK in one year and 3 chancellors to match and some pretty un-British scandal. A run on the pound. A fuel crisis so severe that the Western World in some areas nations are turning out the lights periodically to conserve fuel. A tragic situation in Afghanistan, as well as South Sudan and Yemen. Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, protests in Iran, storms throughout the planet as the climate change crisis intensifies. Increased tension between the USA and China and Latin America’s political lurch to the left. As if that wasn’t enough, Queen Elizabeth II died after 70 years and 214 days on the throne. An extraordinary and irreplaceable force for good. All of these events touch everyone living on our planet.
For us the return of full fat, bustling boat shows was a major feature of 2022, which saw the team in Cannes, Annapolis, Newport, Southampton, London, Orust and at other small exhibitions internationally. As I write this, Düsseldorf proved a success where we showed Pearl, Solaris and Marex. Having been shut for 2 years we looked forward to the inside yacht bazaar to beat them all, although the power crisis might have seen the central heating turned down; so overcoats were not essential! No matter.
Our international team of brokers have worked together brilliantly and we ramped up our marketing offering this year. The Sales Group is coming of age as we work on developing all parts of the business and do so with the same team in place. We have added support in Spain and Sweden with Nathalie Miquel-Elcano and Anna Friberg joining us to support the Berthon mission. All our offices have developed and grown this year.
In the USA, the Team has delivered new Moodys and has Rustlers and Moodys in build for 2023 and beyond. A Solaris 50 bound for their waters was on the Solaris Düsseldorf stand and we have a 40 and 44 in build for the USA too. The brokerage market has led the charge with rapid sales of recent, well maintained yachts. With the shortage of yachts in the USA, European listings from other Berthon offices are filling the gap, assisted by a strong US Dollar and the comfort that is provided to American buyers of dealing with American brokers in our office in Newport in their time zone, with client accounts in the USA and an American contract.
Sweden has been incredibly busy this year as clients internationally recognize the value of the high quality yachts available that re stored undercover in the winter in heated sheds, having been immaculately decommissioned. Their condition is superb and even more mature yachts look half their age, as teak decks, gelcoat and systems are not left in the cold and wet (or humid heat) of the outside storage seen in many other parts of the world. Magnus, Fredrik and the team are the experts on all yachts manufactured on the wonderful island of Orust and they have had a stellar year. Magnus sailed the ARC in a Najad 505 this autumn, enjoying the warm of the Caribs before heading back to the crisp, snow covered landscape of Orust.
For Berthon Spain Service it has been another strong year, as things have ramped up in their Big Blue Shed in Son Oms outside Palma. As we grow into this facility, mezzanines have been built, more machinery bought and the team added to. With some significant refits accomplished in 2022 and a growing guardiennage fleet, the growth curve is almost vertical and so if you are yachting in Palma, Andrew Fairbrass and his team will be delighted to help.
Our Sales office in Palma has been busy with yacht sales; Simon Turner and Ben Toogood with the help of Nathalie are rapidly growing the business. As berthing prices ramp in Palma and yachts for sale migrate to the mainland, day trips to Barcelona, Valencia and the like become more frequent. To make the most of a trip to visit yachts in the Mediterranean, we suggest that you put aside some days to visit all the suitable yachts available.
Our UK HQ has been running fast this year with lots to do on both our brokerage offerings and new yacht sales. We also opened a satellite office in Hamble at Swanwick in 2022 with our friends at Pearl Yachts, which I have to say has one of the best views of the Hamble River that I have ever seen! We are busy with Pearl Yacht sales and have now delivered 4 Pearl 62s to the UK and will deliver a further 2 of these outstanding 4 cabin flybridge motor yachts into the South of France from Spring onwards. With their clever design from Bill Dixon and outstanding interior styling by Kelly Hoppen, they are special. The new launch Pearl 72 takes the genre to a new level.
In France, 2022 saw a time of change and lovely new possibilities opening up for us. After a successful Cannes Boat Show we look forward to the two Pearl deliveries this year as well as a refurbished office in Mandelieu, a new partner in the form of Marc Mellino in Saint Maxime and an addition to our team in France, who will join Isabelle Skaf who has been with us for 15 years.
Bruno Kairet, a colleague at Berthon for 12 years, has left us to join the Windy Dealer in France and we wish him well. Our partnership with Windy Boats finished after 27 years in 2022, which was a sad moment for all, but businesses change and develop and Windy was no longer a good fit for Berthon. We continue to be the go to people for brokerage Windy boats and in 2022 sold a plethora of these great sports boats, with the larger 39, 40, 46, 48 and 52s being by far the more sought after. The Windy SR 52 Blackbird and other super yacht tenders continue to be boats that we understand and handle on the brokerage market, and they continue to be popular for their incredible handling and great build.
Solaris new yacht sales in the UK grew exponentially this year under the enthusiastic care of Alan McIlroy and Richard Baldwin. We now have 7 Solaris yachts in build and interested clients standing by. The more that our clients see of these yachts the more that they like them, with their stunning Soto Acebal good looks, sparkling short-handed sailing and robust, modern construction.
Our brokerage offering has grown in the UK and internationally and whilst the number of yachts sold in 2022 has remained constant at around 200, average values have risen by around 20% as a function of Berthon listing and selling more high value yachts. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Covid value bounce is now over, with second hand yacht prices returning to more normal levels. Demand, full order books and inflation across the board for new yacht sales, however, means that the collapse of yacht prices predicted by those who seek to buy a yacht at a heavily discounted figure has not come to pass and we do not believe that this will happen in 2023. Some yachts in 2022 sold at under market value but these are in the most part exceptions as a result of owners’ circumstances, massively difficult locations and systems or structural issues with the yacht herself.
At heart, the Berthon Sales Group is a marketing organization. This is managed in the UK by a small marketing team – Lawrence Carter on listings, Isabel Moss on support and Harry Shutler our amazing photographer and videographer. We are so pleased to welcome Sophie Kemp back to Berthon after her maternity leave (Toby Kemp who will have his first birthday in 2023 is not yet quite ready to assume his brokerage role at Berthon, but he is already a familiar sight in our UK office). Sophie, a seasoned Berthon broker, has rejoined to work with us to increase the level of marketing support that we provide to the Berthon fleet internationally. 2023 will see an improved promotion programme as we move from the pre-dinosaur world of magazine print advertising to the new world of video, social media, in-house publication and excellent imagery. Granular and informative yacht particulars remain at the core of what we do, but YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and all the rest are now key weapons in the armoury of the 21st century brokerage house. With it comes a new CRM system for the Sales Group to link us yet more closely together, so that we can polish our truly international service to our yacht owners. We think it key that yachts listed in our French office are marketed in Rhode Island, and our Swedish yacht listings are offered seamlessly by our Palma office.
For all the expansion, new systems and technology, we remain a people business, and the whole team is at its best when talking about, experiencing and working on the files of the Berthon Fleet. After the helter skelter of a busy year, Christmas and the New Year holiday provided time for us all to catch our breath, rest and to think about the exciting challenges ahead in 2023.
The voyage toward excellence is a neverending, and a jolly good thing too. The Berthon crews’ passage plan is set and the glue that holds us all together is that of camaraderie and the fact that we are all mad about yachts. However, the very best part of what we do is the contacts and relationships that we build with our clients and in 2023 helping you all with your yachting plans is absolutely what we love to do best.