Better days ahead for Grand Bank Yachts

Luxury yacht manufacturer Grand Banks Yachts sold five boats to the Asian region for its fiscal year ending in June, the highest sales since the global financial crisis.

Buyers from Singapore, Japan and Micronesia attributed to the recent sales growth, up from an average of two to three yachts since 2010.

The yachts are priced between US$850,000 for a 43 ft boat, to US$4 million for one that is 76 ft in length.

Mr Hank Compton, the regional sales manager of Asia, Europe and the Middle East said: "The rise in expendable income and better boating facilities in Asia have helped boost sale figures.

"In addition, boats seems to be growing more popular and mainstream in Asia."

Grand Banks' will also be introducing two new designs of their luxury yachts - the 43 Heritage EU and the 54 Heritage EU - during the Singapore Yacht Show from April 18 to April 21.

Acting chief executive Peter Poli said he remains optimistic and encouraged by the growing demand as the US economy picks up and as Asians appreciate luxury yachts.

He noted that distributors have also been more open to holding one or two yachts in their inventory as customers like to see what they are buying.

The average time for a yacht to be built is six months.

However, Mr Poli acknowledged that the industry still faces some challenges.

"Buyers can be tough negotiators and they had more power to demand discounts of up to 20 per cent when sales were down in the last four years," he said.

"It's going to take a while before they will be prepared for that mindset change and pay prices that reflect market value."

He added that a long term challenge for the industry is to ensure that buyer experience and reliability is maintained despite the growing numbers of boaters.

Businessman Shallum Eptison, 56, who owns 20 boats and yachts, expects the industry to keep up with technological improvements.

He said: "Buyers often look for good electronics, telephone systems, global positioning system and even after-market service.

"This is especially important for long journeys or when you're sailing in rural and pristine areas."

The 56-year-old hails from Palau, a cluster of islands east of the Philippines.