In conversation with Barry Ashmore

The Nautor’s In Conversation with Campaign continues and after interviewing the key people behind the scenes, it’s time to talk about the trends and the feeling of the markets with the main actors – people “in front of the customers” – the Nautor ambassadors for these beautiful yachts. 

Our first chat in this sense is with Barry Ashmore, Regional Director for Northern Europe.

Barry, please, give us an overview on Nautor Swan in Northern Europe? What is the brand awareness and how does it perform today on a worldwide basis? 
Nautor Swan has a long-held presence in the key Northern European markets – obviously in Scandinavia, where our brand originated, but Swans also quickly became celebrated right from our early years among both racing and cruising yachtsmen, with sizeable fleets forming in the UK, Germany and Benelux too.  Northern European sailors have always held Nautor in very high regard, valuing Swans for their build quality, fine performance and reputation for seaworthiness and reliability – these brand values are now appreciated world-wide.

How’s the perception of the sport of sailing in your markets?
Well sailing in my opinion is the very best way of connecting with nature, fulfilling one’s sense of adventure and enjoying absolute freedom.  Sailing also provides the challenges of navigation, competition and seamanship and a Swan is a great choice – a boat you can absolutely trust no matter how ambitious your cruising or racing program. Swan Owners include family cruising sailors as well as keen racers but there’s a clear division between those who sail in home waters, and those enjoying their Swans in the Mediterranean and further afield.  Northern European local cruising tends to suit smaller Swan models so our Swan 48 has become incredibly successful with local sailors, as her size is perfect for smaller harbours and very easily managed by a couple or with a small family.  The lovely thing about owning a Swan however is that it’s a boat that can sail anywhere in the world, so it’s wonderful to follow the cruising voyages of our Owners as they venture further afield. At the moment there is a definite trend towards more remote cruising including to high latitudes.  Generally though, it’s great that sailing is becoming more and more accessible and we see people progressing into larger cruising yachts after being introduced to sailing through charter, crewing or even dinghy sailing.  For sure a comfortable cruising yacht adds a wonderful dimension to family life!

What are the activities taken by the Nautor on these markets? How is your agents’ network organized? 
We are very proud to work with long-established and very experienced partners in all our key markets, many of whom are able to offer 360 degree Nautor services to our customers and Owners – ie new yacht sales, brokerage, charter and service.  They are all incredibly knowledgeable about our yachts – sailing them regularly at our regattas, being present at our events and regularly visiting our shipyard to accompany new Owners as part of the build process.  They guide our clients through the whole purchase process and beyond.

How have the Northern European’s owners have changed overtime? What are the main needs they have when they approach you for a new boat?
I think there’s a trend where we see younger Owners who manage to purchase their Swan yachts earlier in their careers.  They come to Nautor far more knowledgable of the market and already make detailed research about which boats they like before even approaching us, thanks to the internet.  It’s important therefore that our website and social media activity present the ’Swan World’ properly to attract these buyers as they research.  Of course, we still have clients who have long-time dreamed of Swan ownership from years back and have worked hard to get to the position of buying one.  In all cases, we try and start with a visit to Pietarsaari – the very best way to showcase how we build the boats and to learn why Swans have the reputation they have.  It’s there that we fully explore their ideas for the boat and their sailing plans and start the process of specifying the perfect Swan to suit their needs.  It’s a very enjoyable and exciting process!

Charter, Brokerage new boats and Global Service: how is their journey in the sailing world?
Charter and Brokerage are key services offered by Nautor.  Charter is a perfect way to ’try before you buy’ and clients often charter several times in order to properly formulate their ideas for their own boat.  They therefore come to us very aware of what it is to sail a Swan and live onboard which is already very beneficial.  Our in-house charter team can find the perfect Charter for a client as well as enabling existing Owners of professionally crewed yachts to offset some of their running costs by offering their yacht for charter when not in use.   Nautor also has an in-house Brokerage team which links in to both our worldwide Agent network as well as independent brokerage companies. Our brokers are the real experts in all of our models going back decades.  Brokerage offers a great solution for those not willing or able to consider a new build.  Nautor Swan Brokerage also steps in when it’s time to sell your Swan and has an enviable track record.  Nautor’s Global Service is a real reassurance for our owners. They are properly the Guardian Angels for our Owners, able to step in whenever and wherever they are needed. This is a real plus for a brand like Swan – able to assist its customers at 360°.  Swan Yachts are complex and their Owners and crew are often time-poor so time spent onboard is precious. It’s great Global Service is on hand, making the owner feel safe and always taken care of.  Speaking of Nautor’s wider services and divisions, we shouldn’t forget to mention ClubSwan – our exclusive ‘virtual yacht club’ for all Swan Owners, their family, friends and crew.  ClubSwan adds a wonderful dimension to Swan Ownership – warm camaraderie, great social events and the most spectacular regattas!