CELEBRATING 10 YEARS IN THE YACHTING BUSINESS, ASIA YACHTING IS DISTINGUISHING ITSELF AS AN EVENT SPECIALIST, FOLLOWING ITS CONTINENTAL PREMIERE OF THE MCY 80 BY STAGING A PIONEERING BROKERAGE SHOW – IN THE MIDDLE OF A BAY.
AS ASIA YACHTING MARKS its 10th anniversary since being founded in Hong Kong, the boutique dealership underlined its reputation for innovation by staging – for the first time – an eye-catching brokerage show in the middle of the sea.
Over 200 visitors toured the nine yachts in Repulse Bay over a late April weekend, including some who noticed the display from their boats and drove over, parking alongside the brokerage yachts on the network of floating pontoons.
Olivier Besson, CEO of Asia Yachting, explained that the city’s lack of marina spaces and limited boat shows forced him to come up with an innovative way of showcasing yachts.
“A good place to check out the boats is the sea – that’s how it should be. Unfortunately, there are nearly no facilities in Hong Kong for this, so the best way is to create the environment ourselves,” says Besson, who hails from the south of France.
“Although the technical set-up was difficult, the show allowed our clients to feel the yachting lifestyle during the weekend. They drove their boats out to check out our displayed yachts.”
It was just another eye-catching event by Asia Yachting, which kicked off the year with a spectacular Asian launch of the award-winning MCY 80 in January.
The lavish cocktail party at Aberdeen Marina Club featured Monte Carlo Yachts President Carlo Demaria and designer Dan Lenard, as well as glamorous Japanese singer Yoko Wende performing with a jazz band, half-a-dozen models, and boutique interactive displays dotted around the beautifully dressed venue.
Besson admits that Asia Yachting’s stature rose significantly in 2013 when it secured the MCY dealership for Hong Kong and Macau, followed by the Philippines this year.
“Our biggest success was the introduction of MCY, after signing the dealership in 2013,” says Besson, whose company displayed three MCY models – the 70, 80 and 86 – at Club Marina Cove in Sai Kung in early April.
Asia Yachting also represents US boat builders Scarab (Hong Kong, Macau) and Nautique (Greater China), while this year it secured the representation in Hong Kong and China for French brand Prestige, which builds luxury motor yachts from 42-75ft.
For toys, the company represents Sealegs – three-wheel yachts that can drive on land – Seabob underwater scooters and FunAir inflatables.
As well as securing new brands and staging spectacular events, the company’s busy 2017 has also included the opening of a new office in the Philippines, headed by Alfred Gotianun. Besson and Gotianun headed Asia Yachting’s display at the ninth Philippine Boatshow in March.
The Manila office extends the company’s reach from its Hong Kong headquarters, which employs about 30 staff, including over 20 in the yacht management and service team.
Despite the appearance of rapid growth, Besson admits it was difficult building the brand in the early years, when Asia Yachting was essentially a one-man band.
“It wasn’t easy to find the right people to grow the company and generate sufficient revenue,” says Besson, who arrived in Hong Kong in 2004.
“I’ve always been a yachting enthusiast and I saw the opportunity to bring new products as well as the southern French Riviera spirit in a boutique ‘shop’ that was lacking at that time. This city has lots of islands, the climate allows boating all year around and the wealth is here.”
Hong Kong local Franklin Heng, Chairman of Asia Yachting, came onboard in 2014 after Besson invited him to visit the MCY yard in Italy.
“I was sold on the idea of joining after looking at the shipyard,” says Heng. “I’ve worked in investment banking for 15 years and I put the financial infrastructure in place.”
As well as selling new and pre-owned yachts, Asia Yachting prides itself on being a one-stop-shop, providing crew training and hire, cleaning and maintenance, shipping, insurance, financial services and even a berth in Hong Kong.
Heng says: “We help our customers find and train their crew, especially for first-time boat buyers. We do have people who come to us for this.”
However, Besson emphasises that the primary concern for most first-time buyers is understanding and managing the finances of owning a yacht.
“Our customers want to know how much a yacht is and how much it is to own it. There is a common thinking that to own a yacht, it costs 10 per cent of the sale price for annual maintenance. That’s actually not true,” Besson says.
“If you buy a yacht under warranty, then there’s little risk. The yearly cost of running a new yacht is much less than 10 percent.”
Special events are never far away for Asia Yachting, who are yet to announce how they’ll celebrate their landmark 10-year anniversary with clients and friends. A party out at sea?
“We started from scratch and now we’ve become a more established company,” says Besson, who’s happy with his current portfolio of dealerships.
“We don’t aim to expand our list of brands. Instead, we want to focus on increasing the turnover and number of units sold, as well as enhance our market share in Hong Kong and the Philippines. The plan now is to consolidate these two locations.”
Photos: Asia Yachting