YARD UPDATE '08: Couach Yachts

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Yard Updates

Nine composite motoryacht models from 19.5m up to 37m; plus a new 50m project…

MARCH 2008

Couach Yachts' motoryacht portfolio now includes a nine-model fast-planing range — seven ‘Fly’ models and two ‘Open’ hardtop express cruisers. All are in-house creations and share that same spirit — a mix of style, performance and seakeeping. It has marketed its portfolio and capabilities successfully for many years as ‘yacht couture’.
The portfolio kicks off with the 195 Fly, although these days not so many of these are being built as the majority of demand is for bigger models. Then there is the 2100 Open, which joined the line-up around six years ago. The 2200 Fly is another of the older models that continues to sell occasionally, although 35 or so of these have been delivered over the years. A replacement 2200 model is said to be in the pipeline. Next comes the 2600 Fly, the first of which will complete for spring ’09. Then there’s the 2800 Open, which had its model debut at Cannes ’05, and she is followed by the 3000 Fly, the first of which (Hummingbird) was shown for the first time just recently at Cannes ’07. Similarly, the 3300 Fly had her launch at Cannes ’06 and the first new 3700 (Kadimo’s), Couach’s largest launch to date, was also premiered at Cannes ’07 following her launch in July last summer. Amazingly that first 3700 is said to have taken just over 12 months to design, build and deliver and such has been its reception that six more are already sold. Two deliver two brand new yacht models in the same summer is no mean feat.
And there is more impressive developments to follow. The Couach offering is topped off by a brand new flagship 5000 Fly, the hull tooling for which is already well in hand. Delivery of that first €25 million vessel is scheduled for summer/late ’09 and the yard says it is very close to signing orders for the second and third.

  'Today, Couach’s direct workforce numbers around 280...' 

Couach Group has been quoted on the Marché Libre de la Bourse de Paris since 2000. However, despite the stock exchange listing, the principal shareholder with 81 per cent of the operation remains président du conseil d’administration Didier Cazeaux, who first acquired the company from the Couach family in ’97 and subsequently set about restructuring it. When Cazeaux bought into the yard it employed just 90 or so people. Today Couach’s direct workforce numbers around 280, although there are probably some 380-400 employed over the whole group.
As for facilities, the yard currently boats some 60,000 square-metres (645,000 square-feet) of site area, 26,400
square-metres (284,000 square-feet) of which is covered. Plus a new 4,400 square-metres (47,000 square-feet) production hall is under construction. It handles most of its production requirements in-house, save for the obvious specialist systems and equipment. For instance, it does all its own lamination work and has extensive joinery and metal shops.
As of early ’08, the Couach yard had no fewer than 13 boats at various stages of construction, 11 yachts and two 16m (52ft) patrolboats, all for delivery before the end of ‘09. Most of the yard’s current order book is bigger than 30m (99ft), meaning just two of 10 boats to be delivered during ’08 and ’09 will be less than 30m — one 2100 Open, one 2200 Fly, one 2800 Fly, four 3300 Flys, three 3700 Flys, and one 5000 Fly.
In recent years Couach Yacht sales outside France have accounted for around 50 per cent of yard sales, although for exports read ‘Mediterranean other than the Côte d’Azur’. However, it now realizes it must spread its net much further. A new branding initiative is all part of a wider strategy to boost international sales.
At the moment Couach has brokerage and after-sales service sites in Beaulieu, which lies strategically between Nice and Monaco, and Hyères, close to Toulon and not too far from Marseilles. Plus it is in the process of opening a new sales office on the Cote d’Azur, conveniently located in the ‘Old Hardour’ Cannes. Its brokerage activities now packaged under a ‘Couach Selection’ banner.
Plus, following an acquisition in ’05, it also has the complementary IMS refit operation in Saint-Mandrier, near Port Pin Rolland and just outside of Toulon. That facility can cope with big superyachts and now serves as the builder’s ‘Yacht Service Centre’, which effectively handles the pre-delivery/pre-handover work. Not only is IMS made use of by Couach, but also it remains an open-to-all refit and maintenance facility specializing in the 20-50m (66-164ft) yacht sector. Plus it has two valuable arrangements with other superyacht builders, namely Heesen Yachts in Holland and Palmer Johnson in the USA, both of which make use of the operation as their after-sales service centre in the Eastern Mediterranean. IMS employs around 40 people directly, but also makes use of wide network of regular subcontractors and specialists.
And in addition last year Couach benefited from another useful group acquisition, the 40-employee joinery company Conty, which employs another 40 people or so directly at its facility in Terasson in the Dordogne, some 200km from Bordeaux. The operation complements the Couach in-house joinery capability, as well as tenders for outside work.
Couach’s most recent turnover figure for the year to the end of October ’06 was €50.5 million, says managing director Jérôme Cao. Of that group figure around 60 per cent stemmed from its new-build yacht activities. The other 40 per cent was divided more or less equally between patrol-boat building and ‘services’. For the previous year it registered €69.8 million worth of sales and a net profit of around €5 million, but the numbers are not directly comparable as that period was actually 15 months long, concluding on Jan 31. 07. Its ‘07/08 results are not yet available.

© Phil Draper