on 26 Mar 2022
After a successful IPO, one of the most storied names in motoryachts is finishing one era of transition. With a booming market and sustainability a new watchword, the man plotting Ferretti Group’s future, Stefano de Vivo, has a few things to say about the way in which Ferretti will help define the future of yachting – with a helping hand from Wally
Stefano de Vivo is a man on the move. De Vivo is the chief commercial officer of the Italian Ferretti Group, but more than that, he is the man right behind the throne in one of the world’s biggest names in luxury yachting.
His rise in the yachting world started in Asia, where he first worked setting up the Riva brand in the region the 2000s. De Vivo even studied business in Hong Kong. These days, he is setting the strategy for the Ferretti Group and its brands as a whole, and as managing director of one of them – Wally Yachts – he is tasked with keeping Wally’s mercurial founder Luca Bassani treading the path of profitability. He also looks to the edgy Wally brand to work out and implement new ideas and technology.
De Vivo and Alberto Galassi, Ferretti’s CEO, started charting their course for their future in 2014. Investments in new models and R&D had slowed in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and in 2015 De Vivo and Galassi were instrumental in securing investment from Ferretti’s shareholders to build up the range and provide much-needed freshness to the brand’s offerings.
“We entered areas in which Ferretti had a lot of holes.” A US$50 million investment was made to address the need for a more complete model range, and De Vivo says the investors are now very happy with the results. The average length of yacht across the group has risen from 24 to 27 metres (78 feet to 88 feet).
De Vivo says that the level of investment has doubled over time, as new sales have been coming in; meanwhile, Ferretti Group revenues have trebled since 2014. But that doesn’t mean work is finished. Demands in energy efficiency, sustainability, internal volume and range are continually going up, requiring new models and new thinking.
One of the biggest acquisitions of the Ferretti Group was the Wally name, founded by Luca Bassani. De Vivo is now enlisted as managing director of Wally and working between CEO Alberto Galassi and Bassani can be tricky at times.
“I describe it like this: My boss [Alberto Galassi] is like an atomic battery and Luca Bassani is like a volcano,” De Vivo says. Bassani is the guy with the outlandish creative ideas, and it falls to De Vivo and the Ferretti management to make sure those crazy ideas can also get built. “By acquiring Wally and leveraging our brands, we are going to enter new segments (of the yacht market), or we are going to create new segments,” says De Vivo, who says that the Wally brand helps Ferretti find new concepts for the future.
De Vivo holds up the radical new WHY200 as a great example. “We’ve created something completely new: it is a hybrid – not a propulsion hybrid – but hybrid concept. It’s not a flybridge, not a navetta, not an explorer, it’s a bit of everything.” Ferretti Group provides the technical support, industrial expertise and the R&D funds to turn big ideas into achievable, buildable yachts that will be more than just one-offs. “If we build the WHY200, you can be sure there is a range coming.” But it is not just Wally. De Vivo points to the ongoing design and development at Pershing Yachts, the sleek speedsters of the Ferretti line. The new X-line from Pershing is now complete, but the new TØ project is coming out soon.
In 2015 De Vivo and Galassi were instrumental in securing investment from Ferretti’s shareholders to build up the range and provide much needed freshness to the brand’s offerings
De Vivo compares the new TØ as an attempt to bring more volume to the speed and style associated with Pershing, like the Urus for Lamborghini or the Cayenne for Porsche. Pershing’s new TØ promises to bring the style and performance associated with the Pershing brand to the large yacht segment. Surveys of clients show that the top reason for buying a Pershing is design and liveability, with speed coming second, according to De Vivo.
The world’s yacht market is now booming just as it did before the 2008 global financial crisis. Builders have said the biggest problem now is supply chain headaches, not orderbooks. Asia is likewise growing quickly. Ferretti Group has about 11 per cent of its revenue coming from APAC. It was as high as 16 per cent, but De Vivo says that has fallen only because Europe and the US buyers have become so active. Around 70 per cent of the Group’s IPO total was made from Asian cornerstone investors.
For a veteran of the Asian yacht market, getting more Ferretti yachts cruising in Asian waters is a priority.
Ferretti Group is one of the few major yacht builders to have a dedicated and significant presence in APAC. “I think APAC is a huge market, with many different [sub-]markets. We want to keep on consolidating as we have done in Hong Kong and Australia – we are growing a lot there. We’d like Thailand to come back … we’ve already sold two boats there in a short time.”
“I describe it like this: My boss – Alberto Galassi – is like an atomic battery and Luca Bassani is like a volcano”
China is a market that De Vivo wants to revive after a “stale time” in recent years. He is hopeful that Hainan is once again looking attractive. Ferretti is also looking at creating a charter division, although creating such a division in Asia would require more coordination with local dealers. Like all other major brand names in yachting, Ferretti Group is also busy researching ways to cut emissions and reduce environmental impacts.
Here, the Wally name also serves as a way to experiment. De Vivo points to the Wally 43 Tender, which uses a combination of solar panels and batteries to eliminate the need for generators. De Vivo also says that Ferretti Yachts is working on a new range that will be centred on clean tech. “We have something coming, something completely new,” he promises.
Under De Vivo and Galassi, Ferretti Group has moved from filling in holes to figuring out the future. And this will be key to survival. “I think this industry has grown a lot in seven years, and we are living in this fantastic moment,” De Vivo says of the current boom in yachting. “It is a big wave, but when the wave is gone, the ones that know their customers and their product … they will be ones to live to see the next day.”