Gunboat, a French factory for ex-American catamarans

Gunboat 68 will be built at La Grande Motte

Bought by the French Grand Large Yachting in 2016, the Gunboat catamarans will now be produced at La Grande Motte. Mutualisation and reliability objective, within the new multihull division of the group, already owner of Outremer and Ocean Voyager.

A new 3000 m² factory

The Grand Large Yachting group opens a new 3000 m² factory in the port of La Grande Motte. Located 100 metres from the overseas production site, it will house the production of the Gunboat catamarans, recently acquired by the French group. The site's old buildings will be destroyed to make way in spring 2017 for a new factory, specially designed for composite shipbuilding activities. "This first investment, of the order of ?2 million, continues with the tools for the new Gunboat 68," explains Benoît Lebizay, CEO of Gunboat.

While the production of Gunboats has moved several times in its history, from South Africa, to China and then to the United States, the choice of the construction site of catamarans has required some thought for the Grand Large Yachting group. As the North Carolina plant is outside the scope of the takeover, the choice of France was in line with the group's industrial logic, while providing customers with French know-how recognised in high-end multihulls.

Creation of the multihull division

With the Gunboat and Outremer factories a few hundred metres apart, the Grand Large Yachting group is taking a new step in the creation of its multihull division at La Grande Motte. As has been done for the group's aluminium boats under the Allures, Garcia and Alumarine brands, it will be possible to pool resources and share know-how between Gunboat, Outremer and Ocean Voyager, the day charter subsidiary.

The purchasing support, administration and design office functions will be the first to benefit from the merger. Transversal production functions, such as naval mechanics or networks, will follow. Each brand will retain its specific features, linked to the different materials and finishing levels.

A controlled rise in power

The bankruptcy of Gunboat, whereas the turnover was 20 M €, showed the difficulty of delivering non-standard boats like these catamarans, while remaining profitable. The Grand Large Yachting group therefore wishes to keep the yard's development under control, initially limiting itself to 2 boats per year to ensure the quality of the product. "The contractual commitment to new customers is to deliver yachts on time, on budget and by weight, which has never been done in Gunboat's history," explains Benoît Lebizay. The goal is to make the right industrial choice at the right time. 2 Gunboats already represent the equivalent of overseas turnover.

20 recruitment from 2017

The new plant is also good news for local boating employment. Gunboat plans to hire around 20 employees in 2017 and the same number in 2018, eventually reaching 50 to 60 employees. "Between hiring and investment, the multihull division is a strong commitment to boating in the region" recalls Benoît Lebizay.

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