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Sailing ahead.

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Middle East Interiors (MEI) spoke to Jason John, general manager of renowned manufacturer Pino Meroni Yacht Interiors, about the companyCOs current projects, the state of the regional market and future expansion plans...

What is the value of projects that Pino Merino is handling at present? To date, we have signed contracts for projects whose total value is around Dh45 million ($12.3 million), all of which are yacht interiors and mainly for full interior manufacturing - ranging from 66 ft up to 121 ft. In addition, the company is currently in final negotiations for other projects such as a 75-m super yacht in Europe, a 141-m vessel in the UAE, and a 38-m catamaran in this region. What are your targets for this year? Our target for this year is to achieve sales in excess of Dh54 million ($14.7 million). What are Pino MerinoCOs future plans given the large-scale expansion of yachting activity in the region? Since we have made this growing sector of the industry our core business, our plan on a large scale is to become the worldCOs premier yacht interior contracting brand by providing unparallel quality, services and management and delivering uncompromising excellence to our clients and shareholders. The vast majority of yacht builders are currently European and American, because most of the owners come from these areas. In this region however, we can say that interest in big leisure yachts and super yachts has come from Middle Eastern royals who build their yachts and then keep them in Europe or America. About seven or eight years ago the demand for yacht building really took off in our region, which is when Pino Meroni started to establish itself to serve this market. Now, after 10 years of development and expansion, the company sees itself on the right track to proving its capability and know-how to the local, as well as European, markets. In addition to our knowledge of the industry, we can also represent ourselves to be competitive in our prices to European suppliers - especially now with the increasing value of the euro which is space-rocketing the price of equipment and raw materials. What are the notable projects you are working on at the moment? Since its inception, Pino Meroni has established a strong relationship with the biggest yacht builder in the region, Gulf Craft. We manufacture the interiors on most of their yachts, ranging from 66 ft up to 130 ft. Most of these yachts belong to sheikhs and VIPs of this region and some of these boats had their interiors designed by well-known designers such as Evan K Marshall from UK and Sam Sorgiovanni from Australia. We have also established a strong relation and offered our support to these international designers, and as a result we have received several orders from them for supply of joinery elements and loose furniture on some of the yachts of well known shipyards in US such as Broward Marine and Trinity Yachts. The company has also encouraged young emerging yacht interior designers in this region such as Ceryl Beiri from CBD in Dubai. The company has commissioned this young designer to design the interiors of its first stand for the Dubai Boat Show and is currently working with him on a 121-ft yacht at Gulf Craft. Also, at the moment we are in final stages in delivering a 58-m motor yacht in Egypt designed by one the most famous UK-based yacht designers Ken Freivokh, who designed the revolutionary 88-m three-masted vessel Maltese Falcon with Perini Navi shipyard. Can you comment on the present scenario in the yacht interiors industry; what are your specific comments on the demand, competition, and the skilled manpower? What got us to our current status as professionals in building yacht interiors is our work relationships and commitment to our local clients. Our advantage is that they are series build boats and they have evolved and got better and better and started to compete on customisation and style with European boat builders. As you know, it is difficult to do things right if you only do something once. With every boat delivered we incrementally improve our efficiencies. Our manufacturing and experience can compete with the local and international market; our skilled manpower has undergone a lot of training because we have delivered so many yacht projects. Plus, our European project management team has been carefully selected to enhance our growth to be able to match European production in our industry. They supervise and manage all types of projects from the smallest to the largest super yacht, from design development to production, and from quality control to final installation. Although this industry is used to delays and cost over-runs, we can say that with our experience now we try our best to ensure that the yacht interiors are delivered on time, with attention to detail and within budget. What is your current capacity? Our facility size is around 12,000 sq m and our labour and management team consists of around 400 employees. We are able to undertake three to four superyacht projects from 60 m and above at one time. We usually do everything in house, from design development, joinery, upholstery, special finishes like painting and marketry to production and installation. We recently added a new department which specialises in all kinds of Corian work for table tops, bath trays and so on. Are you planning to expand? Pino Meroni yacht interiors always wanted to expand its net internationally and its capacity locally and internationally, but with domestic demand so strong in the past six years, it was relatively easy to manufacture all types of yacht interiors such as fit-out joinery, upholstery and furniture in the UAE. That is not to say that we havenCOt had boats go elsewhere. We did the interiors of the 118-ft Gulf Craft Argusea and the boat was delivered to US - the last time we saw it was at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in Miami. Another one was the 130-ft motor yacht built by Gulf Craft named Delisle III and it was delivered to Australia. More recently, we completed the 118-ft Gulf Craft Melanya, which was delivered to France. Our first step towards expansion involved moving the company last year from a 4,000 sq m facility in Al Quoz to a 12,000 sq m facility in Dubai Investment Park. Second, since we belong to the most famous interior group of companies Co Depa United Group Co we can consider the groupCOs expansion part of ours. For example, to keep most of the production in-house and to supervise cost and delivery, the group has recently acquired a carpet company in Thailand which supports all the group companies in their outsourcing business. Finally, we have been introducing our company to the global market. Last year we have acquired a space in the Monaco Yacht Show and so exhibited there for the first time. From that show we received plenty of enquiries, one of which is in final negotiations for a 75-m yacht in Europe. So now in addition to exhibiting in the Dubai Boat show as we have done for the past four years, we have the Monaco Yacht show and next year we will be in the Abu Dhabi Boat Show and maybe in the Marine Equipment and Trades (METS) show in Amsterdam or Fort Lauderdale. What is your view on the availability of raw materials in the region? With the construction boom that is currently happening in this region, we are facing a lot of scarcity in the supply of materials locally, so for the time being approximately 80 per cent of the materials are outsourced from different places. In our industry, nearly all that we use needs to be class certified and approved by the yard based on the classification rules for luxury yachts regarding safety and the environment. Throughout our development we have established strong relationships with suppliers to make sure that we get the quality we need according to specification and on time. What is the geographical scope of your activities? Just like our tag line CyGlobal interior solutionsCO, we intend to offer our services and products around the world. By Emma Procter

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Publication:Middle East Interiors
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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