German Build, Turkish Reinvention

The economic crisis of 2008 claimed many brands and companies. Drettmann, however, rose even stronger.

By: Ashish Gupta, CEO, Beyondesign

Posted on: February 10, 2012

The economic crisis of 2008 claimed many brands and companies. Drettmann, however, rose even stronger.

Much like the Googles and Apples of this world, the German company, Drettmann, was founded in 1970 in a garage. But this was no dotcom or IT brand. It was originally a modest business selling pre-owned boats, started by the husband-wife duo Traute and Dierk Drettmann. The concept soon proved viable and capable of expansion. After a few years, the couple took over an agency for Dutch steel boats which became their first step on the road to global success. The next milestone was in 1989, when their son Albert joined the business.

After a few years, Albert and his wife Claudia undertook the management of the company. In 1993, the firm began to build the Elegance Yachts series, which was then followed by four more company yacht brands which received great international acclaim. One particularly successful example was the Bandido line, whose high-class design and celebrity owners repeatedly made headlines.

The company grew swiftly owing to its location on the banks of the River Weser, with private berths and crane facilities, as well as well-appointed showrooms for the yachts. However, due to the decline of the prices in the used yacht section of the market, the company declared bankruptcy in May 2010. A statement from the company said that the objective of the insolvency was to restructure the company and preserve its employees. The Drettmann management hoped that this step would have no further detrimental effect on the company’s customers, with the continuation of the Drettmann Groups products being sold worldwide. 

Soon after the declaration, in August 2010, the company detected positive signals with large numbers of sales and the increasing interest of several potential investors. As a boon, the reputation of Drettmann had suffered very minor damage. “The quality of our yacht brands and the unique Refit-Programme by Drettmann” was considered as a major and important reason by the couple Claudia and Albert Drettmann for the preservation of its status. Despite the insolvency proceedings, prominent clients continued buying Drettmann yachts. DTM and Formula 1 race car driver, Ralf Schumacher, in fact, bought the Bandido 75’ from the Bremen series by Drettman during this time.

The number of pre-owned yachts sold also raised continuously during this period. The ordered temporary insolvency administrator, lawyer Edgar Grönda, said, “The actual situation is not the direct consequence of mismanagement, but can be primarily traced back to the worldwide economic crisis.”

Experiencing the huge success and support, the company continued to focus on new yacht builds ‘made in Bremen-Hemelingen’ which generated interest from many investors. The brand, though, still tried to function without an investor.

However, judging the flow of air, Drettmann’s owners, Claudia and Albert Drettmann, partnered with Sunrise yachts to form the Drettmann-Sunrise Group in December 2010. The partnership came about after a potential client of Sunrise’s reportedly commented, half-jokingly, that if he could buy a German-quality yacht at a Turkish price, he’d be thrilled. Herbert Baum and Guillaume Roché, the founders of Turkey-based Sunrise Yachts, met with the Drettmanns over the summer to discuss combining resources, thereby positioning Drettmann as a contender against the North European yards. The new Drettmann-Sunrise Group now has operations in both Germany and Turkey.

The focus of the group’s strategy became the re-birth of the Drettmann brand from a successful yacht marketing firm to a full-fledged yacht-building company. The ‘new’ brand was launched with new yacht designs at Boot Düsseldorf, Germany’s leading international boat show. In addition to the superyacht designs created at Sunrise Yachts, the Drettmann also introduced new product lines focusing on the core business and loyal client-base developed by Claudia and Albert Drettmann over the years.

The activities of the company expanded to include the creation of Drettmann Motoryachts (20m to 37m); Drettmann Explorers (27m to 37m and above); Drettmann Superyachts (46m to 65m); Drettmann Classics (12m to 18m); Custom motoryacht projects in the 40m to 65m size range in collaboration with world-class yacht designers; and refit up to 600 tons, which has now increased to 1,200 tons. During the launch, Mr Roché said, “This is definitely the most exciting project I encountered in my twenty years career as a yacht-builder.”

The partnership soon bore fruits as Drettmann Yachts presented two new superyacht lines in February 2011 along with the Drettmann Motor Yachts (DMY) and the Drettmann Explorer Yachts (DEY). Now, a year later, the Drettman-Sunrise Group, expects to lay the keel of its first Drettmann Motor Yacht, the DMY 32m.

The DMY 32m is targeting yacht owners who like sleek lines, voluminous interiors and innovative features. The open main-deck layout provides a combination saloon-dining area, flanked by sole-to-ceiling windows. Buyers can opt for the fold-down balconies to each side. Good-size windows also characterize the main-deck master suite, but so, too, do two skylights, adding to the airy feel. Owners and up to eight guests, accommodated in four equal-size staterooms, get an innovative aft beach club that can be outfitted in a variety of ways. The center of the transom can fold down and be set up with sun lounges, with a bar tucked inside the yacht. Alternately, a sauna or gym can be fitted inside. Furthermore, additional platforms to each side of the DMY 32m can fold down, making a far larger, wrap-around swim platform. All of these touches are items a buyer would normally expect in a larger megayacht.

The DEY has also been designed and tank tested. The keel of the first DEY, also 32 meters, should be laid soon after that of the DMY 32m. Both the DMY and DEY lines are being built at Sunrise Yachts’ facility in Turkey.

“Our concept of ‘Made in Germany, built in Europe’ has proved us right,” says Albert Drettman happily, “and this is just the start. We may have achieved lots of new things already – but we are planning much more.” With a new life, higher targets, and much more zealous spirit, Drettmann will continue to scale oceans upon oceans!

At present, Ashish Gupta is India’s only promising yacht designer and is making waves in this sector. He started Beyondesign in 2001 and created India’s first superyacht, which propelled him into the global yachting world. He is currently working on designing yachts for HNIs globally and on projects with Feadship, Oceanco, Heesen & Royal Huisman Shipyard.

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