YARD UPDATE '08: Groupe Poncin...

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YARD UPDATE '08: Groupe Poncin...

Yard Updates

Change of tack; but still 25 per cent growth…

JANUARY 2008

Publicly quoted on Euronext Paris Compartiment C, Olivier Poncin’s five-year-old Groupe Poncin operation continues to grow its business. However, it is fair to say the company – responsible for the Harmony, Catana, White Shark and Sea Hawk model lines -- has adjusted its strategy somewhat over the past couple of years.
The major change of tack concerns the six-model range of Harmony sailing cruisers, which Poncin originally conceived just a few years ago to take on the likes of the ‘mainstream’ Bavaria, Hanse and Béneteau Océanis and Jeanneau Sun Odessey ranges. He even spent €17 million on a high-tech plant in Marans, just outside La Rochelle, to build them at a rate of 1,000-1,000 per year. But the volumes never materialized. The Harmony line-up still includes six models — the 31, 34, 38, 42, 47 and 52, shown for the first time at La Rochelle ’07, but now the emphasis is very much more on the bigger sizes, the 42, 47 and 52 particularly, plus a new and more up-market 16m model that will join the line-up this year.
“Yes our Harmony operation has developed a little differently, a little slower than expected,” says Poncin. “We’re really concentrating on our margins now… We get the same profit contribution from one 52 as we do from something like 17 31s, so that’s where we paying most attention… We’re building two 52s a month at the moment.”
The Maran plant, which incidentally also serves as group headquarters, now not only builds the Harmonys, but also some of the smaller Catanas and the bigger Kelts.

  'Olivier Poncin: “The French market over the past year has certainly been tougher...”' 

The Catana sailing cat range currently includes four base models — the new Catana 41, the first of which launches this spring to replace the 43, the Catana 47, the Catana 50, and the new 65, the first of which launched in ’07 and five more deliver this year. Plus it builds much bigger semi-custom projects. One of those completes this spring, a 26.5m (87ft) sailing cat. And there is also a 28m (92ft) underway for a ’09 delivery.
All the Catanas are the work of Paris-based designer Christophe Barreau.
Its Kelt division is now focused on producing its White Shark portfolio, a combination of a dozen open and walkaround models from 5.3-8.7m (18.5-29ft), and on its two Sea Hawk RIB models, currently the new 225 and the 18-month-old 285.
Overall Groupe Poncin employs around 650 people. There are 400-plus in the La Rochelle area, 130 at its Catana plant in Canet-en-Roussillon, which is in the South of France, and 90 at Kelt in Vannes.
As for its ‘06/07 year, its sales grew 27 per cent from €42.3 million to almost €53.7 million, 70 per cent of which was achieved from export territories. Around €24 million or so of that came from 10 or so Catanas, €15 million from 130 or so Harmonys, €10 million from 300 or so Kelts and €5 million from ‘other’ projects, such as its 450-berth marina site, Port Pin Rolland near Toulon and various sales offices and brokerage sites in France, which trade as Poncin Brokerage.
“The French market over the past year has certainly been tougher,” says Olivier Poncin. “The fact that it was an election year certainly didn’t help… Export markets are where we expect most of our future growth… But yes I’m still optimistic… We certainly have more orders now across our three principal brands than we did a year ago… As to the current financial year, and considering the various new-model initiatives across the group, I’m confident of reaching €65-70 million.”
Other new models planned for this year include Catana 46, two new White Sharks, one more new Sea Hawk, and one more Harmony.
The ‘07/08 forecast for Kelt is for it to increase sales some 30 per cent to around €12 million. Catana is expected to grow its sales to €30 million. And Harmony should boost its sales to €20 million.

For more, www.poncinyachts.com.

© Phil Draper