Interview with Erwin Bamps – Gulf Craft

How the east was won. With the industry’s eyes looking to emerging markets, Ocean speaks with Gulf Craft Chief Operating Officer Erwin Bamps about his experienced perspective of the established Middle Eastern market and the up and coming Asia-Pacific.

Text Jeni Bone

Erwin Bamps will be among the expert speakers at the upcoming Australian Superyacht & Marine Export (ASMEX) conference, to be held at Sanctuary Cove on Queensland’s Gold Coast, 20-22 May. Here he shares his thoughts about the superyacht industry, emerging markets and ambitions of the company with Ocean.

What is the topic you’re presenting at ASMEX this year?

At ASMEX, I will deliver an update on the current environment in the broader Middle East, with regards to the marine and superyacht markets in the region. I intend to also present an overview of new market trends and customer expectations in the entire Asian and Asia-Pacific region, while simultaneously marking business opportunities.

Why is ASMEX a good forum for the superyacht industry?

ASMEX is a key forum for the Australian market, and as Australia is a vibrant superyacht market, it is a foremost platform for important industry players to meet and network. Its relevance lies in the fact that it is not just the main forum, but it’s the only one that brings together the biggest players in the Australian yachting industry.

What is your impression of the US market so far this year?

We are noticing that the US market is recovering across the range – from small boats to yachts – although we are seeing an increased appetite particularly for larger yachts over 30 metres.

And globally, which markets are showing good growth and positive large yacht sales?

We are seeing recovery in all major markets with the exception of the European market, and we are seeing positive growth in the larger yachts category across the board.

Is China attractive to Gulf Craft? Why/why not?

China is an intriguing market and an attractive one for Gulf Craft although it is still an emerging market. China is still in an educational phase and an infrastructure-growth phase – there is growing interest from everyone involved in the marine lifestyle industry, be it marina developers, charter operators, waterfront real estate developers, boat builders etc., to find out more about how the industry operates globally. The market is definitely evolving rapidly although the volume growth is not yet very large.

How are you exploring emerging markets – South America, Asia?

When it comes to the emerging markets, we’ve found that it is equally important to see players on their own turf as it is to invite them to see how things operate in more mature markets. So we have been exploring new markets through participating in seminars, product demonstrations and boat shows, as well as inviting interested parties to meet with us in places where our yachts are being utilised and being built.

How many dealers do you have internationally?

We work with a mixed network of representatives including dealers, agents and brokers worldwide, all of whom have differing levels of commitment to the brand with regard to positioning, development and product stocking.

However, we are observing a fundamental change in the structure of the client-dealer-yard relationship which is being driven by a new client profile. Clients today wish to have a closer working relationship with the shipyard – it builds trust and confidence and this works to an advantage especially on semi-customised builds. Clients are definitely seeking out a more direct relationship with the yard.

What are the main goals for Gulf Craft in 2013?

We are increasingly looking to position Gulf Craft as a superyacht maker and the development of the product range in terms of larger-sized yachts is being accompanied by a simultaneous investment in terms of enhancement of skills sets, technical know-how, manpower and machinery.
The approach is two-pronged – both in terms of product development and marketing of the brand. The increased confidence in Gulf Craft’s ability to build larger more complex yachts under the Majesty Yachts brand is also expected to give a great fillip to the rest of our range such as Oryx and Silvercraft. Over the next 12-24 months, we are hoping to see the enhancements made in our larger-sized yachts trickle down across our range of craft in terms of both product development and increased brand cachet.