Coronavirus | Opinions: Interview with Sunseeker CEO Andrea Frabetti

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e interviewed Sunseeker CEO Andrea Frabetti, an Italian at the helm of the British yard, who can be a valid witness of the current change in lifestyle and working habits (especially when in international contexts), which we are all experiencing today globally. “Unfortunately or fortunately I was in Italy when travel restrictions were extended to the entire country and UK established quarantine policy to arrivals from Italy”, says Andrea. “Then the emergency has spread all over Europe, then globally, and today the problem is to travel in general – from Italy it is almost impossible – , but, as a UK resident, I could do it in theory. But given that every day the situation changes, in Italy, UK and in the rest of the world, I prefer to work from home and make video conferences”.

SYD: How do you carry out your role as CEO in these weeks?

AF: “I have a fully equipped and operational office at home and at our Sunseeker offices we have a video conferencing system in all our meeting rooms. For this reason, paradoxically, it is more efficient to work with smart working methods than to be phisically in the office, you can avoid a lot of downtime, I mean, you do not need time to move from/to various offices and locations and that time you save can be turned into practical work.  Also our meetings are faster because the digital medium helps to focus all the ideas and conversations by going straight to the point, avoiding all those unnecessary aspects that are inevitably part of the meetings when people physically gather in a meeting room. I do not have even problems in signing documents”.

SYD: How is the company reacting in these days, are you following government directives, still a little distant from the emergecy – or can you somehow orient them towards prevention?

AF: “In spite of what results from the media, already ten days ago the UK government sent to all firms a very detailed operating protocol with all the instructions we, as a company, had to follow and how we had to communicate them to our employees. This new emergency plan has been immediately activated in Sunseeker and every employee in each department was made aware through relevant instructions exposed in every area of the yard, furthermore we implemented in each area disinfectant products and sanitizing devices and adopted a different arrangement of the workstations. We also have a specific smart working protocol together with a specific plan to protect people’s health when clients visit us at the yard. All the managers have been given instructions about how to deal with workers showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19”.

SYD: The organization of the Palm Beach Boat Show waited for the rapid increase of the emergency before deciding for the postponement of the show. What kind of opportunity has been lost in terms of market?

AF: “Unfortunately, Palm Beach has also been canceled and this is not a good sign for the sector that needs ‘positive signals’. Other boat shows such as in Dubai, Singapore, Amesterdam, etc. have also been canceled. This is a very worrying sign that can lead to a slowdown in orders. The health of citizens is a priority, but unfortunately our sector has been particularly affected. Now also in the US events are limited, they recommended that no gatherings with 50 people or more take place. From England to the USA flights operate regularly (air travel ban is for US-Schengen), so our staff is there to organize for individual customers sea trials of our new products recently presented at the Miami Yacht Show”.

SYD: Have you had any consequences on new orders at the moment?

AF: “For the moment, no, everything is going as expected (touching wood in the UK and iron in Italy)”

SYD: Sunseeker is owned by a Chinese giant. What kind of communications did you exchange in this period? 

AF: “We are in constant contact with China and we have already received direct and precise information since January on what was happening, not only in Wuhan but also in Beijing and other cities. Smart working methods worked well in China for those groups of workers who can do so. There has been no significan impact on the relationships with our shareholders”

SYD: We are losing 6 months of events and opportunities, now the entire events schedule has been postponed in the last quarter of the year. What kind of impact will there be on our sector?

AF: “I prefer not to make any prediction. I can make just an example, of what occurred last weekend in Italy. With most businesses closed, in Italy marinas were the most crowded place. The boat is considered a safe place where you can stay with your family, play sports and be far from the risk of contagion. This may seem a simple consideration but it is true. I would feel myself much safer on a boat than in any other place”.