Managing Director of Fora Marine since March 2017, Olivier Gainon took over the presidency of the RM sailboat manufacturer in January 2019. He answers BoatIndustry's questions about the rocky nautical company.
You have just taken over the presidency of Fora Marine, in addition to the operational management. What does this evolution correspond to?
I had been a partner with Stéphane Sénacq since the company was taken over in March 2017, but I followed this from a distance. When he had to leave his position in March 2018 for personal reasons, I took over operational management. I am now taking over the presidency, but the shareholders remain the same.
What organizational changes have you initiated since your arrival?
2018 was a year of reframing and repositioning production, with a team that mixes new recruits, through production director Pierrick Roy, administrative and financial manager Corinne Delhoume with the experience in the design office of Edouard Delamare and Maxime Védrenne in the sales department. We have implemented planning and simulation software for production management. We also relaunched a superior quality approach after experiencing some concerns at the end of 2017 due to a significant increase in production. A new service manager joined us in October 2018. We have also created a strategic committee of 7 people with external actors such as François Gabart or Jean-Marie Piaton and company managers from outside the nautical industry.
Fora Marine Factory
After restoring the fundamentals in 2018, we want to regain the momentum of recent years. 2019 sees the launch of the new RM 11.80, of which 15 have been sold on plan. We're going back to growth and reconquest.
What are your production objectives and the industrial resources put in place?
In 2018, we built 40 "boat equivalents". To compare an RM 8.70 and an RM 13.70, we calculated a ration on the production time, with RM 10.70 as a reference. In 2019, we expect 48 boat equivalents. The order book is full until December.
RM sailboats under construction
To achieve this, we are relying on an acceleration of production linked to training and the upgrading of skills of teams that stabilize after experiencing turnover. We also expect production methods to be simplified. We will also take RM 13.70 out of the production line, which tended to slow down the pace. A team will be exclusively dedicated to him to produce 3 to 4 boats per year and to be able to work with the customer with a good level of quality. It is a strategic choice to limit the number of RM 13.70 and ensure a good finish.
You have chosen high sandwich walls for the new RM 11.80. Weren't you afraid of blurring the image of RM? Is Fora Marine intended for infusion?
This was the result of a long debate. It was an aesthetic choice for the shape of the livet and to offer a more resistant wall when manoeuvring in the harbour. We discussed with customers and prospects and concluded that RM's image was above all a quality sailboat, comfortable, fast and pleasant to live on, whatever the construction technique. Some people come to see the RMs at trade fairs without knowing that our yachts are made of wood!
Future RM 11.80
Concerning the production, the walls are made at Ofcet and most of the bridges at A2J Composites. Fora remains an assembler and is not intended for infusion. We are also proud to work with the rocky and French nautical ecosystem.
What are RM Yachts' commercial objectives in France and abroad?
In 2018, we expanded our network of agents and resellers in France. Today, we work 50% directly and 50% through the network. 80% of the boats sold in 2018 were sold in France. I think we are now ready to expand in Europe. We need to think about how it works. What share of direct and what share of distribution? We have an active reseller in Italy and François Gabart is involved in Scandinavia. But what is also needed are manufacturing niches that are not 18 months away, hence the industrial work.