Just before boat-show season kicked off this fall, Franco Fusignani moved into the CEO position at yachting giant Benetti after 25-year veteran Vincenzo Poerio. We asked Fusignani about his vision for the venerable company and the industry overall.
What changes do you think are needed in the industry as a whole?
I think the most significant is to improve the quality of the final product and reduce the cost of production. One of my primary goals is to introduce new production patterns to meet these areas of change.
For example, during the design phase when all the technical details are defined, we design what’s requested by our customers directly with suppliers. This has proven successful in drastically reducing the time spent in the production phase by at least 10 percent.
What kind of changes do you believe are necessary for Benetti’s next stage?
Benetti is a hugely successful shipyard with a long history in Viareggio and Livorno, Italy, so to be able to ensure our longevity as a yard, we are constantly in a state of development. This is an exciting stage for us right now. To manage the kinds of orders we have under construction to date, financial rigor and strict cost control are key areas of focus for Benetti. We have meticulously planned all activities in these projects to avoid dead times and overlaps, which impacts the reduction of the working capital in each phase of the construction of the boat—accounting for seven to 10 percent of the total value of the boat itself. This keeps us on time and on budget, but also increases the quality of the final product.
What are your business/production goals for the company?
I am a process and product quality guy. My role as CEO of Benetti is to act as the system integrator and facilitator. My focus is not on a single component but on putting everything and everyone together in the best way to meet our goals as a company. In a business such as ours, we need the right components and people who can get the job done.
What is the biggest challenge ahead of you and Benetti?
Well, in terms of production we’re certainly busy, which is a challenge—but definitely one that
we like. We’ve recently introduced a new model in our Class product line, the Delfino 95. We’ve also just launched the new Oasis 135 and Diamond 145 models, which I’m confident will be some of our most successful models. On the custom side, Benetti introduced the BNow concept in collaboration with [UK-based studio] RWD, which drastically reduces delivery time. The four BNow models (50, 55, 63, and 68 meters) have incredible sales potential—in fact, the first unit was sold during the 2018 Cannes Yachting Festival.
Another challenge for us right now is optimizing the weight of technical components within yachting. Lighter weight means less consumption, which eventually translates into a more cost-effective product and lower environmental impact. We’re also looking for new materials to improve acoustics, reducing noise and vibration.
What are you most excited about?
Without a doubt, the three gigayachts that we currently have in construction at the yard! They come in at over 100 meters LOA and roughly 13,000 GT, and one of them is a complete hybrid. Upon delivery, she’ll be the largest hybrid yacht in the world, which we’re extremely proud of. They’re all going to hit the water in the next few months. The new models we’re introducing are also cause for excitement. We’ve worked with the top designers in the business, such as Achille Salvagni, Giorgio M. Cassetta, and the UK-based studio RWD. We’ve introduced new stylistic elements to these designs while remaining faithful to the fundamental principles that underpin Benetti’s long history and tradition.