Moonen Shipyards is making a strong recovery from the financial turbulence it faced earlier this year due to problems entirely beyond the yard’s control. Construction of one of the yard’s ongoing projects – a 30-metre motoryacht in Moonen’s new Caribbean range – has now recommenced in full cooperation with the owner, shareholder, subcontractors and suppliers. In addition, a number of other clients have submitted their yachts for refits as a sign of their support for Moonen.
Moonen Shipyards has built many award-winning motoryachts over the decades but Saturday 14 November 2015 may well go down as one of the most pivotal moments in the yard’s distinguished history. As the hull and superstructure of the 30-metre motoryacht Matica were joined together, it symbolised the unity and determination to see the yard come out of its recent financial turmoil and regain its place as a leading exponent of premium quality yachts.
The announcement of a ‘suspension of payment’ at Moonen in July 2015 shocked everyone in the superyacht industry. It came as a complete surprise as the yard had found a major new shareholder two years ago with significant financial clout in the form of Mexico’s largest steel manufacturer. AMHSA’s commitment to the future of Moonen was such that it had commissioned the first in a new and very well received range of semicustom motoryachts called the Caribbean series.
“The building of this 37-metre/350 GT Martinique showed the confidence AHMSA had both in the yard and our products,” says Moonen managing director Emile Bilterijst. “By starting the construction we were able to reduce both the cost price and the delivery time, while increasing quality even further. Unfortunately, no-one could have foreseen the sudden and dramatic collapse of the global steel market this summer. The dramatic impact this had on the cash-flow position of AMHSA led it to pull out of the build of the Martinique.”
The innovative nature of the Caribbean series is one of the many reasons why people were saddened to hear of the troubles at Moonen. The yard has a reputation for combining forward thinking design and technology with the traditional values of Dutch craftsmanship that are appreciated around the globe. The management and craftsmen at Moonen are also well-known for their hospitality and commitment to owner satisfaction, so the enforced suspension of payment had a personal impact on many.
This warm heart towards Moonen has also been its saving grace at this vital moment in the yard’s history, as Bilterijst explains. “In addition to the Martinique, another build well underway at the yard was a second yacht in the Caribbean range, the 30-metre Matica. This was being built for a European client who was thoroughly enjoying working with Moonen. His desire to find a way in which the project could be continued, together with the ongoing support of AHMSA on a lower level, have been among the key factors that have helped Moonen get back on course.”
The Matica yacht is slated for launching in July 2016. And the confidence shown by the owner that Moonen will complete the build has been mirrored by very practical support from several other clients who have submitted their Moonen superyachts for refits at the yard. These include the Moonen 97 Etoile d’Azur and the Moonen 97 Nimbus, both of which are being given a new exterior paint livery, having modifications made to their interiors, and enjoying a range of technical upgrades and maintenance. Delivery of both yachts is planned for the spring of 2016.
“We are very grateful to these three clients for their loyalty and proud that they have retained their trust in the people at this yard,” adds Bilterijst. “Despite the difficult situation at the yard we have been able to keep our experienced workforce and the expertise they hold. This is vital to our future as it is people that make a yard, not the facilities. Clients can have complete confidence that Moonen is capable of building the first-class superyachts that have given the yard its excellent reputation.”
The next step
The management team are now working towards solutions that will enable the suspension of payment to be lifted. “A key next step would be to find a buyer for the Martinique,” concludes Bilterijst. “The hull is around 90 percent finished and the same goes more or less for the superstructure. A new owner can still have major influence on the interior and have a phenomenal new motoryacht ready by the spring of 2017.”