YARD UPDATE '08: Fountaine Pajot

< < Go back

YARD UPDATE '08: Fountaine Pajot

Yard Updates

NYSE stock exchange listing; €50 million turnover target; and 175 boats or so a year… March 2008

JUNE 2007

As of June ’07 Fountaine Pajot has had an AlterNext listing on the New York Stock Exchange. From ’03 until the flotation a third or so of the business was previously in the hands of 21 Centrale Partners, an investment fund owned by the Benetton family. Today the major shareholder is still founder Jean-François Fountaine, who retains 52 per cent. Just 27 per cent is on the open market. Beyond an ambitious programme of investment in industrialization and production technology, all aimed at improving the operation’s bottom line and product quality, the funds raised from the flotation are being used for model developments, all with zero debt.
The smallest of Fountaine Pajot’s core sailing model portfolio is the Flahault/Joubert-Nivelt-designed Mahé 36, which first shown at the La Rochelle ’06 show. The next model up the range is the Flahault/Joubert-Nivelt-designed Lavezzi 40. Then comes the new Joubert-Nivelt-designed Orana 44, the first of which went into the water in July ’07. She replaced the old Belize 43. Also new last year was the Berret-Racoupeau-designed Salina 48, the first of which launched in May ’07. She replaced the old Bahia 46. Then at the top of the sailing cruiser portfolio for now is the Berret-Racoupeau-designed Eleuthéra 60, although a new flagship, the Berret-Racoupeau-designed Galathea 65, joins the range for summer ’09.
Then there are its two production ‘trawler-catamarans’ — the smallest Joubert-Nivelt-designed Highland 35 and the Flahault/Joubert-Nivelt-designed Cumberland 46. However, two more new models are under development — the Andrieu Yacht Design-drawn Queensland 55 and a 40, the name and designer of which is being kept under wraps for now. The first of each of those will go in the water during the first half of ‘09.
Then on the semi-custom and custom fronts, all in composites, the company also builds day-charter sailing cats — the Taïti 60/75 — of which over 60 have thus far been delivered. So popular is that ‘commercial cat’ model just now that one leaves virtually each month.

'In all there are some 20 or so ‘FP’ dealers globally, although only eight to 10 are really active...'

Around 90 per cent of Fountaine Pajots are currently directly exported, although another 10-15 per cent go to France’s ‘Dominion’ territories, so they are not deemed to have left France. That means 90-95 per cent of all Fountaine Pajots leave the mainland. Generally around 60 per cent of the sailing cats are sold to private owners and 40 per cent go for charter roles. There is no one big charter client these days, but rather many small operations. Pretty much all the trawler-cats are sold to private owners.
In all there are some 20 or so ‘FP’ dealers globally, although only eight to 10 are really active. The best export markets are the UK and Spain. Very roughly 45 per cent of all sales are within Europe, 15 per cent comes from North America and the remaining 30 per cent is spread over the rest of the world.
As for France, it is still said to be doing very well, particularly for the ‘40ft and under’ models.
For ‘06/07 Fountaine Pajot’s sales reached €42.4 million on the sale of 150 boats, 25 per vent of which were power models. The previous year sales reached some €38 million on the sale of 120 or so boats, including eight commercial cats. As for the ‘07/08 year the targets are set at €50 million and probably 175-plus boats, which represents a growth of around 18 per cent, most of which will be down to the success of the new Orana and Salina models.
“All our new-model development work is part of an ambitious business plan that will see the company through until 2010,” says managing director Eric Bruneel, who manages the operation day-to-day for Jean-François Fountaine. “In the five years from ’00 through to ‘05 we managed to increase our turnover by 50 per cent,” says Bruneel. “And between ‘05 and ‘10 we aim to do the same again… We mean to grow our turnover by another 50 per cent… And yes we’re on track.”
Now employing around 360 people, Fountaine Pajot has two production sites — its original HQ and factory in Aigrefeuille, which is 15km (nine miles) or so outside La Rochelle, as well as an additional factory in the outskirts of La Rochelle, formerly an old flying-boat works. Increasingly Fountaine Pajot is infusing its hulls and has begun injection-moulding decks, which no other cat builders have yet tried.
With something like 15 per cent world marketshare, Fountaine Pajot ranks as the world ‘number two’ brand when it comes to cruising catamarans, power and
sail. The leader with getting on for 30 per cent is Groupe Bénéteau’s Lagoon range.
For more, www.fountaine-pajot.com.

© Phil Draper