CEO Phil Popham On The Past, Present And Future of Sunseeker

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At the Yachts Miami Beach, Haute Living sat down with Phil Popham, CEO of Sunseeker International, parent company to Sunseeker USA exhibiting here in Miami, to talk about its recent yacht model launches, market developments, and the brand’s rich heritage.

Phil Popham, CEO of Sunseeker
Phil Popham, CEO of Sunseeker

How does it feel to be at the boat show?
Well, first to be here as a Brit in Florida in February is quite marvellous. It is one of the biggest shows in the world, not only the biggest show in the US and for us, it is one of our largest markets with around a third of our business in the Americas.

Any special events this weekend?
We do the normal things like cocktails and several customer events, which allow us to socialise with like-minded people, and then we are open for business every day. We have our dealers from all over the US and the Americas here: The Great Lakes, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, some clients even fly in specifically for this event.

Sunseeker Predator 68
Sunseeker Predator 68

Do you find that Yachts Miami Beach draws in a specific clientele?
Clients are drawn from all over the world to Yachts Miami Beach, making it a very exciting show for Sunseeker. We see prospects and customers coming from all over the Americas including Canada, Central and South America and we even see a number of guests from Europe and Russia who are attracted to the scale of the event and no doubt some winter sun too. Sunseeker is an accessible and aspirational brand. At each show we have an open boat policy which allows members of the general public to get on board our yachts.

Sunseeker Predator 68
Sunseeker Predator 68

In terms of the market in 2017, how are you positioning yourself in this show?
We had a very successful year in 2016, we grew considerably and introduced five new yacht models. This year we have already launched the Manhattan 66 and 68 Sport Yacht and there will be another couple of model changes and introductions during the course of this year. This is all part of a £50 million investment that we are making in the next three to four years, expanding our model range and facilities, so we can build more boats more efficiently.

Sunseeker Manhattan 66 interior
Sunseeker Manhattan 66 interior

Can you tell us something about the boats you are exhibiting here, in particular, the one we are sitting on?
This yacht is a Predator 57, we launched this yacht about two years ago – it was the fastest selling Sunseeker of all time because it was the right product, at the right time, for the right price. Its open-plan design is enhanced by the addition of a fully opening hardtop roof as standard so the owner can completely open up the boat, or close it, depending on the climate. The yacht is built with yacht lovers’ needs in mind and the design has evolved and developed in response to customer feedback.

Its sales success has however already been surpassed by the Manhattan 52 which we recently launched at Cannes Yachting Festival, the yacht has already found over 80 new buyers and we are sold out to the middle of next year. The Manhattan 66, which we launched at the London Boat Show a few weeks ago, is sold out to the middle of next year as well!

We are 50 years old. We stay true to our DNA. We started producing speedboats and we have kept that performance element along with our distinctive designs. You can see the family resemblance in all our boats, even more so in the new boats that we are introducing. Craftsmanship and bespoke design are also a cornerstone for us.

Sunseeker Manhattan 52
Sunseeker Manhattan 52

Can you tell us more about this?
In our smaller yachts, you have an array of options that you can choose from to customise your boat. As the yachts get bigger, we actually enable customers to be more of a designer. Anything that is fabric or free standing can be adapted to their style and taste, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the technical integrity of the boat. All our design and engineering activities are done in-house which gives us great flexibility to accommodate special wishes within our larger yachts.

Sunseeker 131
Sunseeker 131

What are some of your favorite features?
The Manhattan 52 and Manhattan 66 are now very focused on exterior entertainment space, with great features on the bow, stern, and flybridge. People really like to socialize outside, so we have a mini ‘beach club’ on the back with barbecue, overhead shower and fold down transom seating, so the whole area can be enjoyed when you are anchored.

Internally, maximizing the useful amount of space is very important. We design everything in 3D now so that we can really make every inch of boat usable. At the same time, we also focus on the interior to maximize space for socializing. Both the Manhattan 52 and 66 have the galley in the back that opens up inside the back and the front, so the preparation of food can be a social thing, with your family and friends.

If you could choose three words to describe Sunseeker, what would they be?
Aspirational, distinctive, and pioneering, we have been around half a century and had several firsts in the industry. We are always looking to do things differently and we are always looking for perfection.

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