Shootin’ the Breeze with… Nick Griffith, MD of Ancasta Group

AAS: You have been with Ancasta since the mid 1990s. What are some of the biggest/important changes in the boating industry that you have seen in that time?
NG: From a sales and service perspective, we have seen yacht sales move from an industry operated by enthusiasts providing limited customer service and technical skills to a point where customer service levels and technical support are now more akin to what we see in the automotive industry.

This development can also be seen in the way yacht sales businesses have evolved in both scale and technical ability with regards to marketing and sales. Succinct and secure data management and online technologies have replaced the Guinness Bar at Earls Court approach!

AAS: Which types and sizes of boat would you say are currently the most popular on the second-hand market?
NG: Well maintained, well presented, recognisable brands are preferred, both power and sail. Size wise we are seeing a preference for craft between 30-60ft in the UK, while in the Mediterranean buyers are seeking slightly larger vessels in the 40-80ft range.

AAS: Ancasta has the largest boat sales network in Europe. In which countries do you see the most boat sales?
NG: The UK is still our largest market, but we are strong and experiencing growth in France and Spain. Although primarily Europe at the moment, we also market and sell boats all over the world.

AAS: Ancasta prides itself on its customer-orientated approach; in what ways does the company put its customers first?
NG: Alongside our boat sales and marketing businesses, we have invested significantly in creating our own service business, Ancasta Yacht Services. AYS gives us the ability to call upon our own in-house technicians in all areas to support our customers’ maintenance, service and warranty needs. Not only for new boats but used as well. The fact that our head count on the sales and marketing side of the business matches the head count of our service businesses is a good indication of the level of our commitment to a customer orientated approach.

AAS: As well as selling new and used boats Ancasta has, since 2020, had a separate business, Sanlorenzo Yachts UK, which is the UK dealer for the Sanlorenzo brand. Can you tell us more about these craft?
NG: Italian shipyard Sanlorenzo has been building an exciting selection of luxury motor yachts since the late 1950s. It produces a range of bespoke yachts from 78-130ft and a superyacht range in steel and aluminium from 40-75m.
Over the decades, Sanlorenzo has earnt an enviable reputation for building beautifully crafted, made to measure yachts which demonstrate the highest quality of craftmanship and the latest in design and innovation. We are very pleased to be bringing the Sanlorenzo range to UK and Ireland owners. The brand is extremely well known around the world, however in the UK access and awareness were limited, so we established Sanlorenzo Yachts UK to change that, and the team has done a remarkable job so far.

AAS: In addition, Ancasta Yacht Services offers refitting, repair and maintenance services. Do you think people are increasingly turning away from doing work themselves?
NG: I am not sure whether there is a trend away from do it yourself, but our experience is that our customers are busy people and time is valued. Consequently, they are happy to pay the right amount of money for the right service when it proves to be the most efficient use of their time and money. If you can provide and demonstrate genuine value, then customers are prepared to have a professional look after their boats.

AAS: Having added, for example, Protector Boats, Scorpion RIBs and Spencer Rigging in recent years, Ancasta is clearly a business always looking for the next great addition; what is coming up in 2024?
NG: We are always looking at ways and means to add to the Ancasta Group offering. Be that additional complementary new boat brands, additions to the sales network (franchise or wholly owned) or new service providers, such as Spencer Rigging which we acquired last year.

Our strategy is to seek opportunities that augment everything the Ancasta Group does with the objective of providing our customers with an all-encompassing yacht sales and service business – all under one roof.

AAS: What kind of boating do you enjoy?
NG: I get involved in all sorts of boating from commuting most days between Cowes and our head office on the Hamble in a 10m Cabin RIB to yacht racing, primarily inshore, in one design keel boats to bigger race boats. In addition, when time allows, I enjoy cruising in both power and sail around the UK’s South Coast and in the Med.

AAS: Tell us something people might not know about you!
NG: My first foray into the yachting business was circumnavigating South America as a very young deck hand on an 83ft ketch before moving into racing and building IOR boats in Spain. This was followed by setting up a composites component shop in Cowes in the late 1980s. During my career, I have spent time before the mast and on the tools, but have been desk bound for the last 30 years!

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