Photos Courtesy of OysterThe 2006 recession marked the launch of trying economic times that has not been kind to the luxury market. Yet, some some companies are not only afloat but thriving, such as British boat builders Oyster Yachts. Revamping with new marketing campaigns, the downsized company has divided their production labor and is taking steps to insure their longevity, and it's working.
Many of the changes within the company have come as a sign of the financial times and of a shifting buyer demographic. As generations age and older yacht buyers retire, the luxury world is evolving, and reaching a younger clientele while maintaining loyalty to longtime customers demands employing creative thinking.
Gone are the days of traditional boat shows that would garner what Oyster's marketing director, Liz Whitman, describes as a “genuinely interested,” clientele. Noting that the future lies in capitalizing on special events that commemorate the company's well-established reputation, one idea of Whitman's is a year-long party. Though a surprising venture for the company, sales indicate Whitman's event, the "Oyster World Rally," is onto something.
Launching this past January from Antigua, Oyster is celebrating its 40th birthday with a sixteen-month regatta that will travel to ports around the world. On target to hit Australia in early August with a "half-way party," the 28 Oyster yachts in tow will finally dock in the Carribean in April of 2014.
Preparations for the event began over three years ago, receiving double the amount of responses the company had been expecting. Oyster had calculated that they could deal with 40 yachts, but expected far fewer. “If we ended up with half that amount that would have been great,” said rally organiser Debbie Johnson. Instead, within a day of announcing the Rally they received over 90 replies. At least 15 entries have already been collected for the second World Rally, set to sail in January 2016.
Since 2001, Oyster has been organizing regattas for their clients around the globe. Due to an outcry for more events featuring the craft, a request for more customization options occurred showing the company a niche that is only growing; refitting.
"The emphasis is on producing well-engineered yachts and superyachts that will appeal to the adventurous owner, and with the flexibility for a high level of customisation, even on the smaller models," reports SuperYacht.
Now a thriving part of the company, Oyster has developed new customization and redesign options for their larger yachts and small scale boats that has increased profits and demand.
"Even production is expanding," David Tydeman, the CEO of Oyster told Yachting World.“We have just got planning permission for a new building on the site which will give us three new build bays."
Battling what Tydeman describes as a, ‘doubledip,’ in the market, the first dip occurred between 2006 and 2009 when yacht sales dived from 64 to 45 million. While 2010/2011 rose to a record breaking 80 million, profits for 2012 amounted to 1 million. Though marginal, the profits allowed the company to welcome in a new regime of restructuring.
While future marketing trends may be anyone's guess, the company is sailing towards calm seas. Confident in Oyster’s future despite past economic difficulties, the company has remained debt free showing an upswing in profits in 2013.
“Challenging times all around,” says Tydeman, “But we’ll come out of this quite strongly, I am sure.”