Italian shipyard has announced a €100m investment programme for products and infrastructure. David Robinson sends this report from the Cannes Yachting Festival 2016.

Azimut Benetti press conference Cannes 2016

Azimut-Benetti reveals financials and future projects at a press conference held at the Cannes Yachting Festival 2016

Reporting 5% growth over the past year and 15% over the past two years, the Azimut-Benetti Group continues to expand its activities.

In order to maintain its position as the world’s largest luxury yacht builder, the group is planning a €100m investment programme to focus on product development and infrastructure.

Paolo Vitelli, Azimut-Benetti Group president and majority shareholder (88%), informed journalists attending its annual press conference that the value of production currently stands at €710m for 2015/16 compared with €682m for 2014/15 and €611m for 2013/14.

This is a 15% rise over the two years. Azimut-Benetti holds an 11% share of the 10m-120m (33ft-394ft) market, which it sees as growing at 4-5% a year, but the group is growing faster than that.

Key to success

Mediterraneo 116

Benetti new Mediterraneo 116

Vitelli described the group’s key to success as being a “constant focus on technical research and creative design, higher than average investments and a visionary spirit.”

As to the group’s vision, he pointed to Azimut-Benetti remaining a family concern as it has been for 47 years, along with a stable development strategy and a focus on innovation, technology and expansion.

Azimut-Benetti as a group is composed of the two separately branded build operations, each accounting for 45% of turnover, and the remaining 10% from its yacht services division which includes Fraser Yachts, Yachtique, Lusben Refit and its growing marina activities which now extend across Italy (Varazze, Viareggio and Livorno), Russia (Moscow) and its recently announced project in Malta.

A key element in fulfilling the vision is the three-year €100m investment programme which will focus on product development and infrastructure.

This will see a 15% increase over the €85m of the previous three-year investment plan which included a €20m spend on building two large construction halls to support Benetti producing superyachts of 100m (328ft) or more.

Currently the group is building three superyachts of 107m (351ft).

“We have the three 100m-plus yachts in build. The order book for yachts over 70m (230ft) extends to 2020/21,” Benetti’s COO, Fabio Ermetto, explains.

Show time

At the Cannes Yachting Festival, Azimut-Benetti is exhibiting 21 models – 17 from Azimut and four from Benetti ranging in size from 10m-40m (33ft-131ft). Of these the Azimut 66 Fly is a new model for 2016/17.

Vitelli said: “Buoyed by solid results, the group’s growth strategy is based on ever more substantial investments in product development, innovative technology and processes, new design trends and a global commercial presence.”

Azimut-Benetti has a group pipeline for model development including scheduled launches through 2016 and 2017.

This includes:

Benetti Mediterraneo 116
Azimut Verve 40 Weekender being launched at Ft Lauderdale show 2016
Azimut Grande 35m (115ft) launching at Dubai show in March 2017
Azimut Grande 27m (88.7ft)
Azimut S7 launching at Cannes 2017
Azimut 60 launching at Cannes 2017

New partnership

In other developments, Benetti and Rolls Royce have formed a strategic partnership which has resulted in the design of the innovative Azipull Carbon 65 (AZP65) carbon fibre propulsion system.

Another exclusive collaboration sees Achille Salvagni being appointed to design all the interiors of the Fly Collection over 15m (50ft) and Francesco Guida will do all the S Collection interiors starting with the S7.

As a final comment, Vitelli said: “We have never stopped investing all our resources in the product, and the market recognises this in the form of sales. I feel proud of the more than 2,000 people who work for the group.

“While many of them are young, they not only have a wealth of experience and a shared passion for the product and the technology it draws on, but also identify strongly with the company’s values.”

Ed Slack, editor of Sb’s sister title IBI, was moderator at the Azimut-Benetti Group press conference.