UK boatbuilder Sunseeker is primed for a bumper year, having closed 2016 with what it claims will be a 20% increase in turnover and a robust order book through to 2018. Talking to IBI at the London Boat Show, CEO Phil Popham said the builder would be “comfortably back in profit” in 2017 and that he expected turnover for 2016 to be in the region of £250m, up from £202.6m in 2015 when it registered a net loss (after taxes) of -£13.7m.
“As of December 31, we were 40% up on forward orders compared to 2015,” said Popham. “We’ve already taken 79 orders for the new 52, making it the fastest selling Sunseeker of all time,” he said, adding that the builder had also received 28 deposited orders for its new 66 Manhattan which is having its world premiere at London, along with a new 68 Sport Yacht. More launches will follow in the middle of the year as the builder focuses on developing the smaller end of its portfolio after launching the 95, 116 and 131 last year.
Brexit, and the ensuing drop in the value of Sterling has undoubtedly given a shot in the arm to the builder. The last year has seen major growth particularly in the US, which has seen a 44% increase in sales, whilst Europe sales remain steady. “Growth in US is based on representation and momentum of the brand,” Popham said, adding that there was a definite “feel good factor” amongst dealers there despite uncertainties following the election. “There’s a feeling that Trump could free businesses from bureaucracy,” Popham added.
Growing its business in Asia and the Middle East will also be a priority for 2017. Its new dealer for the Lebanon for instance has just signed its first order for a 116.
“It’s much more a slow burn now with transactions taking longer,” Popham admitted, saying that the drop in the pound had been a key incentive in making buyers finally commit. The builder is now implementing the five-year growth plan valued at £50m that it announced in September last year, with roughly 50% of the money earmarked for new product development, and the remainder on upgrading its manufacturing facilities and production processes. Popham claimed the builder was already taking on another four to five staff each week on its production floor to keep up with demand. “We will be capacity constrained in 2017,” he admitted.