YARD UPDATE '08: Cranchi

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Around €120 million-worth of sales and a production tally of around 700 boats; plus bigger models next year…

JANUARY 2008

Cranchi’s turnover for the year to the end of August ‘07 was around €120 million on the sale of some 780 boats. Much the same numbers as the year before and incidentally much the same as the target for the current 07/08 year. The leveling off now, having had a number of years of very strong growth, is more about Cranchi pushing the limits of its existing portfolio than hitting a flat spot.
Cranchi’s current motorboat portfolio includes 17 models from 8-15.2m (27-50ft) a combination of sportscruisers and powercruisers, plus two flybridge motorcruisers. There is the CSL 27, CSL 28, Zaffiro 28, Zaffiro 32, Pelican 32, new Zaffiro 36, new Pelican 36, Atlantique 40, Endurance 41, Mediterranée 43 Open or HT, Mediterranée 47 Open or HT, Mediterranée 50 Open and HT, and Atlantique 50. All are Volvo Penta-powered and a couple of the newest ones now have IPS drive options.
A family-owned company since it started first started building boats on the shore of Lake Como way back in 1870, Cranchi is steered by president Aldo Cranchi, the man responsible for building up the company we know today. In all Cranchi employs around 500 people across its various sites.
Cantiere Nautico Cranchi, to give the yard its full name, has been at its main Piantedo, site in Northeast Italy since 1970. Expansion of this ‘Plant 1’ headquarters site, which has always incorporated a considerable degree of automation and the latest production management thinking, is on-going. It currently has up to 33,000m2 of covered facilities there and concentrates on the 10.4-15.2m (34-50ft) models. Then there is an even more technology-dependent plant at San Georgio di Nogaro, which is near Venice and next door to Cranchi’s test centre. Called ‘Plant 2’, it opened in late ’01 and now concentrates on the smaller 8.5-9.8m (28-32ft) models. There is also a new technical sub-assembly operation, ‘Plant 3’, that is around 2km away from that latter plant. It is in Colico and handles electrical installation work and makes use of robotic pipe-bending equipment.

'A new 25,000 square-metre ‘Plant 4’ in Rogolo is soon to come on stream. Due to open in a year’s time, and representing an investment of around €40 million, it will allow Cranchi to build bigger boats and so compete better with mainstream mid-market players such as British yards Sunseeker, Princess and Fairline, and Azimut in Italy...'

A little further ahead, Cranchi has ambitious plans to expand its portfolio upwards. A new 25,000 square-metre (270,000 square-feet) ‘Plant 4’ in Rogolo, Sondrio Province, is soon to come on stream. Due to open in a year’s time, and representing an investment of around €40 million, it will allow Cranchi to build bigger boats and so compete better with mainstream mid-market players such as British yards Sunseeker, Princess and Fairline, and Azimut in Italy. The technology levels in this plant will be every bit as high as the other Cranchi plants. The building is already up and the equipment installations will be completed by the end of the year. The plan is for that facility to build motoryachts between 15-21m (50-70ft). Everything will be done there from lamination up, save for small parts production, which will be fed from . All these new bigger models should eventually be available in either HT (Hard Top) or Fly guise. The first of those ‘big’ Cranchis, a 19.5m (64ft) Cranchi Mediterranee 64 Hard Top, will complete for summer ’09. And a 64 Fly version on the same hull will follow shortly afterwards.
And before that Genoa ’08 should see three more new models join the line-up.
We’ve had a good year really,” says Alessandra Cranchi. “But it has been hard work… Demand for bigger boats is what is driving us more and more… It is getting harder and harder to sell the smaller units. It is easier to sell a 50 than a 27 these days, and it’s getting more so all the time. Bigger boats, the 36s and above, are much easier to sell… So building bigger is now the obvious next step for us.”
Nevertheless Alessandra Cranchi insists her company is still happy with its existing entry-level of 27ft (8.2m).
Cranchi exports to no fewer than 35 countries via 50 or so dealers. And overall exports account for around 75-80 per cent of sales. “We really have to work hard to stimulate dealers and demand,” says Alessandra Cranchi. “Decisions are slower… And that goes for everywhere, Italy included… The Italian market is okay, but not easy… Overall Europe still remains very strong for us, but again it is hard work… The UK has slowed up significantly. The London show in January was very quiet… Germany is better and Northern Europe in general is doing okay… Beyond that the USA is obviously down owing to the weak dollar… South America is not what it has been…”
Interestingly Cranchi has managed to develop business in the USA for boats between 11-15m (36-50ft). Selling boats to North America from Europe doesn’t really stack below 11m (36ft) as proportionally the freight costs are simply too high, says Alessandra Cranchi. Indeed it is one of the few European motorboat builders to have done well there. Most European motorboat builders selling there are really only doing so with 50ft-plus models. What’s more, thanks to some “clever” pricing, the business there for Cranchi is still there today despite the worst ever dollar-euro exchange rate.
A similarly clever pricing strategy is also said to be responsible for propping up Cranchi’s UK market, which is also under pressure from a particularly strong euro.
And there are various emerging markets that are making encouraging contributions. For instance, Cranchi’s Hong Kong and China importer Starship Asia is doing well. There are already said to be around 10 Cranchis in mainland China the USA is obviously down owing to the weak dollar…
For more, www.cranchi.it.

© Phil Draper