Aurelius, owner of the Hanse Yachts group, took a majority stake in Privilège Marine in the spring of 2017. How do you feel about the situation today?
Gilles Wagner: I think we made the right choice of buyer. All small projects come at a time when they are having difficulties. Either they choose to stay on a small volume, or they want to increase their production and then they need support. With the Hanse Yachts Group, we have the support of the world's 2nd largest sailboat manufacturer and the 15th largest motor boat yard. Hanse's business model suits us. They already have 6 marks and each one keeps its DNA. No shells are common between the ranges. The strategy is clearly identified: it is a question of supporting the Privilège Marine brand, while keeping our identity. The site remains in Les Sables d'Olonne. I remain president, with my say, and I don't just become a site manager. We will push the project towards excellence and not towards volumes, as others have been able to choose. It's important to me. When we planted pear trees for five years, it's not to make apples!
The change has been seen and the return to smooth payment has enabled us to regain the confidence of the market and partners. To sum up, I would say that we have once again become a shipyard like all fashion, thinking about its new ranges of boats and not about how to finance the next day.
How does Hanse's arrival translate into concrete results in the Privilège Marine shipyard?
Gilles Wagner: We put things in perspective. The idea is to use their methods wherever they are best. But it also goes in the other direction. After visiting the Hanse design office in Les Sables d'Olonne, their engineers found ideas to take with us.
We have 3 main priorities: purchasing, industrialization and sales. We keep our purchasing services but benefit from Hanse's support. The objective remains to satisfy our customers with the right products. Hanse is not a cost-killer. For production, we carried out an audit of our processes, in order to better organize our work and to have an approach closer to the industry. We will use their planning tools.
To cope with the development, we have recruitment projects, with about thirty positions to be filled, both in the design office and in production.
What about the commercial and industrial aspect to date?
Gilles Wagner: We continue with our historical network, but through Hanse Yachts, we have more than 200 potential new distributors to strengthen it. We are currently working on file sharing. A new website is also planned.
In terms of sales, Hanse's arrival reassured customers. 3 prospects were unlocked for 5 Series catamarans after the announcement of the takeover.
What are the projects for the Feeling brand?
Gilles Wagner: We give ourselves the time we need. It is clear that the Feeling brand is less essential for Hanse, and when it is not necessary, it must be productive! Therefore, do not tinker. Some customers are waiting for us, because it is a mark of affection to which they are attached.