After a moderate decline in revenue (given the health crisis) of -11.3% over one year during its first half of 2020-21 (from September 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021), at 84, 7 million euros, the Fountaine Pajot shipyard, in La Rochelle, strongly noted this downward trend during its second half (from March 1 to August 31, 2021). The group has not published the details of its activity in the second half, but according to our calculations the turnover of Fountaine Pajot, listed on the stock exchange, climbed by 38.8%, to 117.6 million euros, during this period.
This enabled the Charente-Maritime shipyard, world number two in the offshore catamaran market, to end its 2020-21 financial year up 17% over one year, at 202.3 million euros. A very positive rebound for this shipyard, of which Nicolas Gardies is the managing director, fueled in particular by a recovery in the international markets, driven by an almost general exit – in Western countries – from the heaviest containment phases.
Five new models launched during the turmoil
Another central driver of this recovery in sales: the strategy developed by the shipyard, which continued to invest while avoiding strengthening its positions on a central playing field made dangerously slippery by the crisis: that of rental. In 2017 Fountaine Pajot invested 11 million euros in the capital of the Dream Yacht group, alongside the Next Stage investment fund.
Founded in the Seychelles in 2000 by Loïc Bonnet (former written press journalist -“JDD” and “Presse Océan” -Editor’s note), associated with Romuald Caillaud, the Dream Yacht group (parent company of Dream Yacht Charter) has established itself in international level as the leader in the rental of yachts with or without crews, thus becoming one of the main buyers of this type of boat. For the record, the Seychellois group owns a colossal fleet of 1,050 units. With the cessation of tourism, the Covid-19 crisis hit this very large rental company hard, which led to very serious financial difficulties for it and caused a depreciation of the Dream Yacht shares held by Fountaine Pajot. With an exceptional negative result.
An event that dissuaded the La Rochelle shipyard from returning to pot with the international rental company when the Vendée group Bénéteau, world leader in boating, decided to take control of it last September after a capital increase of 60 million euros (representing 87% of the capital), carried out in concert with the Czech group PPF.
In addition to the market rebound, Fountaine Pajot’s performance comes from the group’s ability to market five new models, including two sailing catamarans (Samana 59, Isla 40), one motor (MY4S) and two monohull motor yachts from its subsidiary Dufour (D470 and D61).
A confident but cautious shipyard
Fountaine Pajot, which employs with its subsidiary Dufour (monohull yachts), nearly 1,300 employees, is seeking to recruit again. The shipyard achieved 87% of its export sales during this financial year, with a very good response from the European markets, which total 38% of sales, ahead of North America (23%) and major exports. (24%). The situation nevertheless remained negative in the Caribbean, where the pandemic continues to remain very active and is undermining charter activity (yacht rentals with or without crew), leading to a drop in sales of -77.7%.
Fountaine Pajot is optimistic for the coming months since its order book is on the rise, while remaining cautious due to the global crisis affecting supplies and powerful inflationary pressures on the prices of raw materials. The group should unveil in the coming months the details of its Odyssea 2024 strategic plan, which will notably lead it to design and build yachts that are more respectful of the environment.