You have just taken over the Archambault by BG Race project. What was your background before you made this decision?
Jean-Charles Thomas: I have always been a passionate sailor. My professional background has nothing to do with boating. I have an industrial background. After a business school and an MBA in the United States, I worked in the manufacturing and automotive industries for companies like Safran. My last position is that of General Manager of Jenoptik France, an industrial metrology company employing up to 140 people in France. At a turning point in my professional life, I wanted to combine my passion for sailing with my activity. Louis Burton's takeover proposal was therefore timely and we were able to sign last Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
How does this work with the BG Race team?
Jean-Charles Thomas: I only take over the Archambault by BG Race project. The racing team remains independent and changes its name to BE Racing. On the other hand, Louis Burton remains a partner in the project and I believe that this is what seduced him in the solution I proposed to him. He will bring me his sailing expertise, while being able to devote himself fully to his career as a skipper and his new boat which requires it!
How will this work for the name Archambault by BG Race and the staff?
Jean-Charles Thomas: We keep the staff. The workforce remains at 7 people. My wife and I replace Louis Burton and Servane Escoffier.
Concerning the name, there is no decision to change it today. We will try to surf on the Archambault brand, which has a great image in France and abroad. As for by BG Race, it makes the link with the team and we'll keep it, at least for now.
What are your industrial projects?
Jean-Charles Thomas: There are 3 main areas of work:
The first is commercial. We will redeploy the brand with the objective of international expansion. Due to contingencies with agents and distributors, the network had become non-existent. We will also be present at the Nautic 2017 in December. This commercial effort must bring orders that will make it possible to develop manufacturing in Saint-Malo.
The second axis is industrial. Before committing heavy investments, we will outsource part of the production to be reactive. The work carried out with the Spanish MMW yard for the latest Tizh 40 satisfies us and corresponds to the quality image of BG Race. We are considering subcontracting other boat models to them, but we are also open to other partners. Once the activity has been revitalised, the aim remains to develop in-house construction in Saint-Malo.
We also have to work on the offer, with new boats. Even if it is too early to go into details, we are thinking about the modernisation of some hulls and the design of new ones. Monohull, multihull... We remain open to follow the demand, without distorting the spirit of the Archambault range.
What about the current demand for historical Archambault models?
Jean-Charles Thomas: There is always a good demand for Surprise in Switzerland, but also in France and abroad. The M7.50 is still very active. We have also taken the order for an A35 R. Thanks to an agreement with the customer, the yacht will remain in the yard and will race with Louis Burton to promote our boats. We must now relaunch the Grand Surprise and the A13.