Luxury yachts set sail despite global slowdown

Posted at 05/30/08 4:56 PM

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Fuel prices may be soaring and consumer spending languishing, but that hasn't stopped the super-rich from acquiring the ultimate status symbol: the luxury yacht, the CEO of Italian yacht manufacturer Ferretti said.

Vincenzo Cannatelli told Reuters on the sidelines of a luxury goods summit in Tokyo that the company expects double-digit growth in revenues this year as the wealthy in new markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East set sail.

"If we talk about boats of 45-80 meters, we're taking orders for 2012 to 2013. It's a segment that's going very well," said Cannatelli, who keeps a Riva yacht in Tuscany and also likes to sail in the Caribbean and the Seychelles.

In the business year that ended on August 31, 2007, revenues grew 21 percent to 933 million euros. Core profit came in at 158 million euros.

With the Croatian coast becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination, there is strong demand from nearby countries such as Russia but also Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania, he said.

Cannatelli said Ferretti is looking at the possibility of co-investing in moorings to overcome infrastructure problems.

In Dubai, for example, Ferretti has teamed up with a real estate company to develop waterfront apartment towers that are named after Ferretti yachts. The apartments can be bought together with a yacht moored at the development.

"We'll continue to grow at double digits," Cannatelli said, despite weaker demand for smaller yachts.

"Below 40 feet there's a certain slowdown. In the United States, there is a very serious slowdown, but it's a market where we are present but which is not hugely important," he said.