On 3 June, Sunseeker announced the launch of Meros, a co-ownership platform developed exclusively for Sunseeker clients. SuperyachtNews speaks with Martin Huber, managing director of Meros, about the details of the new platform, the sharing economy, misconceptions and his long-term targets for the superyacht market.
“I started boating in the 1980s with small sports boats and then in 2006 I bought a Fairline 68 and I learnt very quickly that the costs are not in a good relation to the time that you can use the boat,” starts Martin Huber, managing director at Meros. “So, I decided with my next boat in 2016 to enter into co-ownership to formulate my own opinions on the model. However, I learnt that co-ownership makes no sense for smaller owner-driven boats, it creates far too many problems. Furthermore, the vessel was only available for private use and not for charter, but I felt this was a big disadvantage when compared with the possibilities.”
As to why Sunseeker, Huber explains that the Sunseeker brand and business model is the ideal partner for a co-ownership business. With the capacity to produce large numbers of vessels in a variety of size ranges, as well as having a strong international brand, Huber believes that through Sunseeker the co-ownership model can grow rapidly.
“It will naturally depend on how successful the business will be, but we have prepared our business in such a way that one day we will be expecting five-to-10 boats every year,” comments Huber.
“We are usually some years behind the US market, leasing, for instance, was adopted much earlier in the US than it was over here. The same has happened with various sharing models, many things have come from the US. A study out of Delaware predicts that the sharing economy will from $25billion to over $300billion in the next size years. I believe that the acceptance of the sharing economy is growing, especially amongst the younger generations. Of course, there are still those who believe you have to possess something to use it, but the younger generations just want access, not ownership,” continues Huber.
Huber cites the car market as an analogous business, explaining that 20 years ago few numbered the individuals that leased their vehicles, whereas today leasing a car, whether privately or through a company, is extremely common. Huber also believes that co-ownership models can help alleviate capacity issues at some of the world’s most popular marinas, as well as reducing the raw materials that are required for the superyacht industry.
“There are various distributions channels for the new platform, one is certainly through Sunseeker’s organisation because they have strong market access. But, we are also working with certain brokers. Not necessarily brokers from the traditional brokerage houses, but young brokers with an international network that have a completely different approach to the market,” explains Huber.
The first vessel to be made available for co-ownership with Meros is Sunseeker’s Blue Infinity 86 Yacht. At 26m Blue Infinity is above the 25m threshold that Huber has set for the model. Unlike previous co-ownership models, which focus on fractional private ownership, Blue Infinity will also be able to charter during those weeks when none of the co-owning parties are able to use the vessel. Vessels will be managed through Meros, which will arrange the crewing, berthing, insurance and various administrative responsibilities associated with managing a superyacht.
“We’re excited to be involved in bringing this new concept of yacht ownership across the Mediterranean and to the market,” comments Chris Head, director of sales at Sunseeker London Group. “As well as joining the Meros Members Club, Meros co-owners will be a welcome addition to the Sunseeker family. This exclusive network includes invitations to our new model launches, International Boat Shows & VIP events and owner cruises. Through Meros, we’re offering Sunseeker yacht ownership at a quarter of the cost. Simple, honouring your time and our heritage, while always prioritising your experience.”
Among certain factions of the superyacht industry, co-ownership certainly still has its detractors. Whether it is because the details of the various business models operated by different businesses are not understood well enough or because some doubt whether or not multiple owners can own and operate a superyacht harmoniously, many of the arguments do not typically stand up to interrogation. Given the amount of discourse that is dedicated to attracting new owners to the superyacht market, it is shocking at times the extent to which certain individuals push against a legitimate model that may attract new clients with different perspectives.
"If you make it easy to exit, you make it easy to get them in," concludes Huber.
For a more detailed review of the various benefits of co-ownership models, click here.
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