The BFR group invested 49% in the Marée Haute shipyard in 2016, then acquired the Minahouet site, which houses the sailmaker and its colleague IDB Marine. Eric Brulé, partner at BFR, explains the reasons for these investments and his projects in the nautical industry.
First, can you remind us of the activities of the BFR group and your background?
After having done Hydro in Le Havre, I sailed as an officer of the Merchant Navy. In 1991, I joined BFR, a family company specialized in the design, manufacture and distribution of equipment for the food industry. I then had the opportunity to take over the management of the company with my partner Antonio Fonseca. Today, we are 180 people with a turnover of ?50 million.
How did you manage to invest in the High Tide project and then in the Minahouet site?
I wanted to get back into the maritime business. I had the opportunity to meet Serge (editor's note: Calvez, the founder and boss of Tide High) through a common acquaintance. I went with my partner who came back with stars in his eyes. A minority investment in High Tide was decided in 2016. Serge's character is endearing and the range of boats has seduced us.
Then Serge explained to us that we should probably move to the Colguen industrial area because IDB Marine, our neighbour, had plans to buy the site we shared. IDB Marine was offered to buy the land together but they refused. As they were finally unable to raise the money on time, BFR bought the land back in a timely manner.
Why did BFR buy the Minahouet site?
We only spend the money we have. BFR finances development, but not losses. On the other hand, it was Marée Haute that bought the business of the Minahouet shipyard to create Marée Haute Services.
What is the purpose of this purchase?
We need to push services to develop volumes. Serge does a good job animating Tide High Services. In new production, we have a target of 20 to 24 boats to reach a critical size.
By proposing to Denis d'IDB Marine to take a step forward together, the idea was to move to the next critical size from ?3M to ?5M. At this stage, this gives the possibility to work with a distribution network and to develop export. This was not done. It's a shame, but it's not a tragedy. All the prerequisites may not have been met at the company level. There's nothing to say it won't happen later. We must at least wait until the next activity figures.
Heating investment for the composite workshop
What is the interest for BFR of the creation of the BFR High Tide Team?
This makes the link with BFR's DNA. At the beginning, Fabio Muzzolini, High Tide salesman, asked me if we could sponsor him for his Mini 6.50. I told him no. "1 sail out of 80, I'm not interested. Reflects on what is being done elsewhere. "With a team, we give the means to arrive stronger together on the starting line. We have two protos and three series and it's working well. In addition, our customers in the food industry such as Sodebo, Maitre Coq or Fleury Michon are present in sailing, so it is a good opportunity to be with them.
In a nutshell, what are the objectives for High Tide and the Minahouet site?
High Tide must be profitable with beautiful boats. For the site, it is being renovated step by step. It is necessary to give it what its capacities allow it with 2 approved fairing areas and a situation in the heart of an extraordinary geographical area between Lorient and Port La Forêt.