Refitting a Super Yacht is a major trend among the community over the last years. As shown by the latest CNA report on the yachting industry (Confederazione Nazionale dell’Artigianato e della Piccola e Media Impresa) in April 2018, the Refit & Repair industry has gradually become an important part of the global yachting industry. It has seen constant growth particularly in Europe, as reflected in the number of new refit yards in Italy, on one side, and the boost in turnover of the main players, thanks to increases in both the number and value of contracts. Another important sign is the recent conversion of certain historic shipyards to the Refit & Repair business.
The success of this business is due to two main factors: firstly, it is the natural result of the gradual increase in the fleet of existing yachts, and of their age, leading to higher demand for maintenance and repairs; secondly, it is also thanks to an increasingly popular trend for either refitting an existing yacht (particularly when the second hand market does not satisfy their expectations), or purchasing vintage or particularly valuable yachts and bring them back to their former glory, leveraging on the intrinsic value of the yacht design or brand, rather than commissioning a new one. This expansion in the number and economic value of refit contracts, along with the owners’ increasing attention to quality, has prompted the development of specific standard contract models, designed to balance their respective requirements and interests.
Italy hosts the largest selection of refit yards among the European coastline, with Spain and France following, but in a distance. Greece surprisingly for most people, except the ones that have a shipping background, is not far behind, as many would believe. Greece’s reigning shipping industry has shifted focus to the cheaper, bulkier and with far less fitting quality standards yards further East, leaving the countless, very well equipped, conveniently located around Athens shipyards to the Superyacht Industry, almost solely.
The Greek Shipyard business is booming under the constant pressure for bigger, better and comparably cheaper. Being on par with the majority of the European quality yards, Greece offers a significant advantage over their neighboring competition and this is the cost to quality ratio.
Labor costs are still significantly cheaper compared to the rest of the EU, while real estate values in the areas where the shipyards are most commonly located added to a very attractive business model. Since Golden Yachts starting building their own Super Yachts, among them the award winning O’Pati and the superb 95 meter O’Pari 3, Greece attracted international attention. Most of the action still happens in the Peramaarea, next to the Pireaus commercial harbor.
Modern facilities with high tech infrastructure and equipment, match the demands of naval architects around the world. Shipyards such as the Spanopoulos Group at Perama, have recently invested 20 M euros over the last 6 years. The yard can now accommodate yachts up to 100 meters, and 1800 tons on their dry dock facilities.
Their offered services include total wrapping, a 100 meter long toll, full paint and remodeling, interior refit, shipwrights, engineering solutions and repairs among the less specialized works such as simple antifouling and polishing of yachts.
Yachting Protection and MKS Yacht Paintings have taken over many new builds from Lurssen, Feadship, CRN and Blohm and Voss, while in Greece many over 100m yachts have had their paint re done in the highest quality standards.
Michael Spanopoulos, the CEO of Spanopoulos Group shifted his interest from owing the largest tug boat fleet in the world to the superyacht refit industry. Even though he has one of the largest travel lifts in Greece, with a lifting capacity of 1800 tons, he still believes that with the rate new builds are being launched, soon they will need to upgrade to larger facilities to accommodate the demand.
Is this the dawn of the ultra yacht era? Owners of these extremely large yachts, do not jump in the game just like that. They are experienced yacht owners who know what they want and are constantly upgrading. What will happen to the second hand market in some years, where there already is an increasing shortage of mooring space for superyachts? These are some really interesting questions that remain to be seen.