Coronavirus | Interview with Vincenzo Poerio

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is the moment to focus our attention on the current situation in order to better understand where we are going and what kind of problems we will have to face in the near future. Many yachting events have been postponed to November, from the Dubai International Boat Show to Yare, with the Palm Beach Boat Show still in the calendar, unless other decisions arrive. As a magazine, we can not stay far from the industry, so, even if connected virtually and through digital systems, we are trying to interact with the sector in order to provide the vision of the most important key people in the market. Today we have interviewed Vincenzo Poerio, who only two weeks ago had announced his return to the sector joining Tankoa Yachts as new CEO (link to the news). After 25 years in Benetti, Poerio is considered to be one of the key influencers in the market with his long career especially in the superyacht segement. We offer here below his vision and considerations about the current situation:

SYD:You have been in the yachting sector for many years and in the past there will have been different periods of uncertainty of different nature, even before the economic crisis of a few years ago. Do you remember such an “apocalyptic” moment (at least as far as it appears) like what we are experiencing today due to the coronavirus emergency?”
VP: “All the difficulties we had in the past years were a consequence of economic crisis related to man-made disasters. Today we are facing a natural event, unless contrary evidence is provided. Our health is at stake and if it were not for the low percentage of deaths, we could consider our survival at risk. It is now officially considered a pandemic with a risk of spread upgraded at highest level and which for the first time in history affects the human being globally. Our only chance is to stop it from spreading as soon as possible. It strikes me how some important countries in our esteemed Western world, are still considering this situation with much superficiality, maybe because they are much more worried about an economic crisis rather that our health. It is shocking how we are discovering to be totally vulnerable in front of a virus, that as a matter of fact, shows a low mortality rate. Maybe this kind of emergencies will be the real challenge for our survival in the future, but I hope I’m wrong”.
SYD: “Italy is today the second most affected country, and we know that most of the global nautical production is concentrated here, not only in terms of finished product, I mean boats, but also as a supply chain. What is the immediate scenario that we must expect for this year and what possible difficulties for the future?”
VP: “Our sector, and I think many others, will be not much affected if everything is resolved shortly, within a maximum of 1-2 months. In this circumstance we will be able to recover what we are losing in this slowdown. If the emergency lasts longer, there will be a strong economic / social impact in 2020 and, consequently, the recovery can only be expected next year”

SYD: “You are now CEO at Tankoa Yachts, a shipyard that does not deal with serial products but with ‘bespoke’ units and therefore has no large numbers to deal with. What kind of considerations have you been able to make at the moment regarding the current situation?”

VP: “The consequences of the current situation on our production system will involve delays in the production and in the acquisition of new orders, which will lead to lower margins. For this reason we have to contain as much as possible our structural costsreducing them or compensating them with extraordinary institutional support. In this situation the goal is not to earn but rather to be able to pass undamaged through this difficult moment in order to focus on the future development”.

SYD: “In your opinion, a global market like the nautical sector had sensed that the emergency from China would soon affect also Europe and the rest of the world?”

VP: “As long as problems are not ours, we are hardly involved. At the beginning, and in a very superficial way, we though this emergency would affect our sector but only marginally, since the percentage of Chinese clients is low compared to the other markets”.

SYD: “Financial markets always react very badly to these emergencies and politics is in fact asking for a stop to speculation. What happens in the world of the rich when the markets suffer so dramatically and suddenly? How is this emergency reflecting in your daily relationships with clients?” 

VP: “Speculation take off like a spring in these situations with securities going down and new financial opportunities on hand for those who have possibility to purchase and at a low price. We hope that the institutions will succeed in stopping this speculation. As regards our clients, our relationships depend on whether we are in the construction phase with a signed contract or we are still negotiating. In the first case we have to achieve a right compromise about delivery, which in fact is changed due to force majeure causes, and in this case our clients offer their maximum comprehension and collaboration. In the second case everything is postponed, despite all the efforts made so far to find an agreement. However the relationships are positive with continuous phone calls. In particular, customers will retreat with their families in safe places waiting for better times”.