Damien Harlé (grandson of the famous naval architect Philippe Harlé, father of Muscadet) took over the management of Ouest Composites, the parent company of the semi-rigid boat builder Pro Marine in Auray, in December 2017, with his partner Jean-Denis Barbigant. He and BoatIndustry look back at his career and his projects for the Breton brand.
Can you tell us about your personal and professional career and how it led you to the takeover of Pro Marine?
I have an engineering background in construction. I have always wanted to become an entrepreneur in the industrial sector. This led me to the takeover of Ouest Composites (NDLR: which manufactures composite parts for industry, such as body parts for agricultural and construction machinery). With my partner Jean-Denis Barbigant, we both have a passion for boating and sailing. We did a sailboat transatlantic race together in 2009. Pro Marine is a small nugget. Boats represent 7% to 8% of the activity within the Ouest Composites group. We want to take up the challenge of Pro Marine at the same time as that of Ouest Composites and make a brand that deserves to be known.
What are your projects in terms of boats and new models?
Our idea is to animate the brand. This involves refitting existing boat models and of course the introduction of new semi-rigid boats. You have to be able to remain dynamic in an ultra-competitive motor boat sector. There is no half-measure possible.
What are your objectives for the marketing of Pro Marine boats in France and abroad?
We did the Boot Düsseldorf show for 3 years, but we won't do it again this year. Our first objective is to restructure on the French market in order to be stronger in export markets. Europe is a subject that is a little different in terms of communication. We must give ourselves time to build a distribution network abroad with good local support. The short-term priority is to strengthen the Pro Marine dealer network in France.