“If it is that virtue is concerned with passions and actions, in which excess is a form of failure while the lack is praised” (Aristotle), then we can fully understand the secret of the success of Luca Brancaleon, the new General Manager of Bénéteau, who has rapidly grown into a leading figure within the scenario of worldwide yachting industry.
Loyalty, consistency and determination are the ingredients of his fast-growing career, intertwined with his great passions: his family and yachting.
It is therefore not surprising when Luca cleverly makes us feel comfortable in the blink of an eye and starts answering our questions with extreme spontaneity.
Yours is a successful career, started at Sessa Marine, where you had your first international experiences. Then, the jump into Brunswick, one among the main industrial groups of the worldwide yachting industry, where, despite the crisis, you filled a series of important and fast-growing roles. Well, Luca, it seems that the crisis of recent years – which, fortunately, is now a thing of the past – hasn’t got you into trouble. What’s the secret of your success?
” One of my main concerns has always been the capacity to resist the various job opportunities because, in the world of yachting, there are only few managers and job offers are consequently many and continuous. You therefore risk to fall into the temptation of fast, speedy yet – at least, in my opinion- poorly stable careers. During the period of crisis, I declined many job offers, some of which were even very interesting and concerned with the world megayachts, because I believed that my evolution was not complete yet and I thought that it was correct and interesting to finish some challenges and complete some on-going projects. The process that led me to leave Sessa Marine and join Brunswick lasted 2 years, it was a difficult choice for me. What finally convinced me was the opportunity offered by Hatteras Yachts, my dream boats. When I was child, my father, who was a sailor, used to take me to the Genoa Boat Show: well, when I climbed on board a Hatteras, I felt like the happiest child in the world!”
Bénéteau is one of the biggest brands in recreational boating industry. You joined the company last year. Well, what are the main goals of your mandate?
“Well, of course, they are concerned with the growth and, above all, the profitability of the company. Some are probably more concerned with the possibilities to make profits but what is really essential, especially for the companies which are listed on the stock exchange, is how much these companies actually earn. That’s what I try to do with absolute vigor and special attention to both investments and product plans that we develop in co-operation with Gianguido Girotti.
Marketing and sales have been the main ingredients of your career. How important is marketing and product positioning, especially in complex groups like Brunswick and Bénéteau, in a market which has always represented the top of the already exclusive luxury market?
” It’s essential to reconsider the pillars and the DNA of a brand, that is its image and market positioning. These are the first things to do when you enter a company also because this contributes to make key players perfectly aware aboutwhat the company sells and the objectives it is devoted. I don’t like the radical changes of direction; on the contrary, I think that you need to study the brand which you work for, especially in the case of a legendary and historic brand like Bénéteau. In addition, the founder of our company, that I’m used to disturb very often, works with us and helps us to absorb the history and values of the brand. I love to fill my work with all these ingredients and remain faithful to the spirit of the company”.
Yachting industry is progressively recovering. The crisis is finally over. However, it has served to distinguish the shipyards which have resisted it and those which, on the contrary, were seriously affected by it. Now, after a long period of absence, some brands are coming back to the market. What would you advise the new owners venturing into their first purchase?
” Beyond the emotional aspect, purchasing a boat is always an investment. I think it is imperative that, before purchasing a boat, owners study the history, the evolution, the reliability of a shipyard along with the value over time of a boat. In the past, many brands died and resurrected, harming both owners and suppliers, especially in those countries where politics permits this bas practice”
Let’s talk about yachting. We’re at the Paris Boat Show and we saw two important presentations: the Figaro Bénéteau 3 and the Sea Drive Concept. Apparently distant from each other, these two themes have, however, one element in common: innovation. How important is innovation for the boating industry today?
“Innovation is essential today. Product cycles have become shorter and owners constantly need new stimulus. The world of yachting moves faster and faster; consequently, companies have to develop new products and imagine their next evolutions. It’s a process, where different synergies and development come together and result into products which are already expected to have future steps and evolutions. Big shipyards are therefore required to provide owners with the same capacity for renewal and change that they can find in the other sectors”.
Which new entries will Bénéteau bring at the Europe’s largest out-of-water boat show?
“In Dusseldorf, we will launch another important collaboration. In addition, our stands will benefit from a new arrangement and position at the boat show and we will offer a premium service to our visitors. It can seem paradoxical but the real novelty will be the absence of the Figaro Beneteau 3 which, in the same period, will join the Miami Strictly Sail”.
Luca, we know that sailing is one of your passions. How did you come into contact with this discipline and how has your passion evolved in your life?
” My father had a lot of passions and one of these was sailing. My family has always owned a sailboat and we’ve always sailed a lot. Then, I met my wife who, at that time, was a sailing instructor (and worked in the sector of powerboats). Since then, we spent all our holidays on a sailboat in exotic and little-known places. I’m not a professional sailor but, if I can choose, I prefer sailing. Now we live in Le Sables d’Olonne, a place where sailing plays a highly important role, and I love putting my scuba suit in on Sunday morning and set sail on my Hobie Cat”.
” I spend as much time as I can with my wife and my three children who, of course, sail, too. I love running, too. When I was younger, I was used to put my running shoes in my suitcase and go running early on the morning, wherever I was. Now, my back said “stop it”, so I have long walks along the Atlantic coastlines and I study foreign languages, which are another passion of mine”.