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Plain sailing for Princess after surge in sales of luxury yachts

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The British yachtbuilder Princess has nearly trebled profits thanks to the re-emergence of affluent American buyers.

Princess Yachts is one of the country’s largest specialist manufacturers and employs 3,200 at its boatyards in Plymouth.

Owned by interests of the French multibillionaire Bernard Arnault, 70, the man behind the luxury goods group LVMH, Princess will today announce operating profits of £29.8 million for 2018, up from £10.9 million on the year before. That came from the sale of 270 boats, up from 230 in 2017, bringing in revenues 24 per cent higher at £340 million.

A marginal rise in the revenue per boat from £1.2 million to £1.25 million came as Princess sold more 70 to 80ft boats at between £2 million and £3.5 million. Its stock-in-trade is 40ft motor-yachts, which start at about £300,000. Its top-of-the-range 130ft “gin palace” comes with a price tag of £17 million.

“The US market is growing substantially, but it was also the market that was worst hit by the financial crisis,” Antony Sheriff, Princess’s chief executive, said.

Mr Sheriff, 55, was brought on board in 2016 to turn around Princess, which had been on the brink of financial collapse. He was previously chief executive of McLaren Automotive, before falling out with its founder, Ron Dennis.

He is increasingly bringing in McLaren skills in carbonfibre composites to replace Princess’s traditional construction techniques using fibreglass.

In January the company plans to launch a boat called the X95, which Mr Sheriff claims will transform the superboats market. He said that the 75ft yacht’s design and construction will give it almost as much living area as boats twice as long.



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