Spearheaded by Andrey Lomakin, West Nautical is gradually becoming a key player as an established yacht brokerage and management company amongst a field of serious players. Their personal approach to the business and a strong background dealing within the Russian market is what sets them apart from other companies in the industry. We meet with CEO Andrey Lomakin and Managing Director Geoff Moore to uncover the company’s position in this highly competitive playing field.
Having entered the maritime industry in 1999, Andrey Lomakin attributes his successes to his involvement in the automotive sector, where after he became one of the founders of Burevestnik Group in 1999. During his time at the group, Andrey worked to create a new brand named West Nautical France, which he acquired in 2013. Resolute to steer his new found business into the waters of personalised brokerage and yacht management services, he put together an experienced team with locations in the Med and across the UK.
Along his side is maritime professional Geoff Moore, whose career started on the high seas working on merchant ships and later superyachts. Geoff runs the charter and management side of the business, amongst which is the fleet flagship, the 60 metre Benetti St. David. “When I met Andrey, I was brought in by his straight-talking and vision. One thing that struck me in comparison to a lot of other industry professionals and CEO’s is that he openly wants to work together for the common goal, not just dictate. The individuals within the company, are here by their own merit and ability to all work towards the same purpose. This makes it a fantastic team with great leadership stemming right from the very top.”
One of Lomakin’s first big commitments was the commissioning of a yacht with the intention to be involved in the project from the design and construction stage, all the way through to the sale of the vessel to her first owner. Andrey called upon his existing relationship with Dutch shipyard Mulder to build the first 94 Voyager, named Firefly, together with Omega Architects, Vripack and John Vickers of Vickers Studio. “A lot of shipyards rely solely on renderings, but to sell on pictures just isn’t going to happen. The idea was simple; to gather the best people from the industry and to build the best boat possible.”
The interest in the project was very clear at this year’s Cannes and Monaco Yacht shows, yet, Lomakin is realistic about what is needed for this concept to become a true success, “Realistically if the project is to be successful, there would have to be at least three to five sales. One such example is the 97 platform from Moonen, which proved to be very successful. We have a letter of intent signed for hull number two, and we have people interested in buying this particular boat [Firefly], and we are thinking of hull number three already.”
Part of West Nautical’s brokerage division includes an established distribution service in which the company deals with brands such as Fairline in France and Russia, and more recently, Sunseeker. It is this side of the business in which West Nautical first specialised in; an area which had a natural expansion-effect upon the nature of the company, “As a distributor, for many years we were selling boats under 30 metres, with very few yachts over 30 metres,” continues Lomakin. “The first new-build we were involved in was with a Sanlorenzo 40 Alloy. When the time came to manage the vessel after delivery, I found myself not able to give my full attention to my biggest client. Managing was done in a very traditional and simple way, and it was then when I started looking for the right partner with the same vision to develop the company for the future. So when I met with Geoff around a year ago, it was after only two hours together that we understood that we are on the same wavelength, and that we can do business together.”
“It’s really the vision of what Andrey had, matching the vision of what I wanted,” says Geoff. “I didn’t know where else I would find that, to have it match so perfectly.” To support the brokerage-charter-project management pillars of the company, Andrey has surrounded himself with a strong team, each specialising in a field that contributes to the overall service-range that West Nautical offers today. And although the company is slowly diversifying its client portfolio, being able to comfortably deal with the needs of a predominantly Russian dominated clientele seems to be a natural ability for most of the West Nautical team.
“When Geoff joined and became the managing director of the management and charter department, all of our management clients were Russian,” explains Andrey. “Now, we have the first one who is not Russian. I have very good access to the top wealthy people in Russia, and this is a big source of many of our deals, but Geoff also has a very good name, and the quality he and his team provide will attract customers from the whole of Europe.”
Geoff reaffirms Andrey’s intentions. “What we did from the beginning is set up a British, Russian friendly company. To understand the Russian mentality, why they question things the way they do and to understand the Russian language they use, and not just relying on Google Translate; which I now know, doesn’t translate things as accurately as you would hope. We understand where they [Russian clients] are coming from, which is very different if you work for an Arabian or American owner for instance. The way they spend their money and the way they reason it; it’s making sure they understand what the money has been spent on, which is one of our main roles as their managers.”
Recent reports might suggest a decline in the Russian market activity. Andrey however feels the situation is not nearly as dire as some might claim, and could even be described as increasing. “I would say it depends on the size, and that the 40 metre plus range is a very good market. I know that there are seven Russian owners building 100 metre plus projects at the moment, a figure that I estimate will increase over the next two to three years.”
Part of the company’s forward-thinking approach is their way of keeping ahead of the game on the social media front. This has not only become a way of communicating with the industry, but as Geoff, along with new PR and Brand Manager Sarah Tucker notes, is a powerful platform to generate an interest in the company. “LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – I’m passionate about it,” says Geoff. “Not only because I am that generation, but because I understand the power of it to get the brand out there. You’re not going to get an owner to buy a boat through social media, let’s forget about that. But it’s good for business to business brand building and networking. That’s why people are starting to recognise us, and the West Nautical brand.”
The affect the company’s new-found enthusiasm and team spirit is having on their development is quite clear, with future expansion plans already in place. But, as Andrey explains, West Nautical will first be focusing on reaching their goal as an established company within their desired size range, “We are not planning on becoming a huge company, and we have no target to be big simply for the sake of being big. We want to be a boutique company – perhaps a big boutique company, but certainly not global.”
“At the moment we’re employing new people every month,” says Geoff. “This month (September) we’ve had three new people joining. We are already planning for Fort Lauderdale and Antigua, so we have big plans coming up. The main thing we want to get across is that West Nautical is a team and that we’re energetic. We’re not a small company, we’re a future big company.”
Monaco. September 2015.
The SuperYacht Times (c)