Interview / Alubat:"The first new UFO competitor is used UFOs!"

Christian Picard, Chief Executive Officer of Alubat

Christian Picard reports on Alubat's renewed health and the plans for the Vendée aluminium sailboatyard. New models, refit and customer service are on the program.

You joined Alubat as Managing Director in September 2016. Can you remind us of the context of your arrival?

Christian Picard: Alubat was created in 1972 by Yves Roucher, with an innovative concept of aluminium sailboats that made the boom years of the project. Unfortunately, like many boating companies, Alubat suffered a lot from the 2008 crisis, until it filed for bankruptcy. In 2013, a group of 14 shareholders, composed of UFO owners and Vendée entrepreneurs, took over the company, keeping its former CEO, Mr. Aupinel, at its head. Some shareholders, clients of my AYC brokerage business, finally contacted me in the summer of 2016 to take over the management of Alubat, in order to revitalize the company and redress a difficult economic situation.

Today, what about this recovery?

He's well engaged. We have order visibility for the entire year 2017 and are welcoming our first new employee this month. We have regained a production rate that satisfies us.

What are the main lines of work you use to relaunch Alubat?

There are 4 priorities. We are working on the offer, including the launch of UFOCat, customer relations, after-sales service and quality.

The historical range is still as popular as ever and we will be launching the 125th Ovni 395 and the 46th Ovni 445, models with a remarkable longevity for a construction site like ours. Consequently, the second-hand offer is important and second-hand UFOs are the first competitors of our new yachts. It is necessary to propose new models. The strong development of multihulls in the travel boat sector and the attractiveness of polar destinations, where the robustness of aluminium is an asset, has led us to offer an aluminium catamaran. The OvniCat 48, presented at the Nautic de Paris, is very well received and we hope to release the first model in the fall of 2017.

The longevity of UFOs creates a long-term relationship with owners. We are therefore taking several steps towards them, to pamper them. An employee, with 17 years of experience at Alubat, was assigned full-time to after-sales service (spare parts and support for boaters) and refitting. Launched in September, the Alubat refit pole has already handled the modification of 3 boats. We are also relaunching the owners' club.

In terms of sales organization, are you considering changes?

There is no major change, but we need to revitalize the network and rebuild our export network, which has suffered from the past difficulties of Alubat. We also wish to continue to develop direct sales to yachtsmen, which are profitable for the shipyard's accounts.

What are your economic objectives?

We aim for an annual turnover of 3 M?. The ambition is not to return to 60 boats per year as before the crisis, but rather to make 15 boats well finished. The strong recovery of the last 6 months makes us rather optimistic...

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