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Powerhouses merge

Two Australian family businesses, both behemoths in their respective fields, have joined forces with the objective of expanding their combined global footprint.

13 July 2023

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Ahoy Club and Ray White Marine have teamed up to create a mega-group focused on leveraging their premium offering to their combined databases, as well as attracting new clients in international markets.

Ahoy Club, owned by Managing Director Ian Malouf and CEO Ellie Malouf, will merge with Ray White Marine, headed up by the Rodwell family.

Ray White Marine is a renowned international yacht brokerage and new vessel distributor, supported by the White family of the largest property group in Australasia.

Representing the Ferretti Group, Sunreef and Technohull, Ray White Marine is recognised for its exceptional sales performance and expertise across Australia and New Zealand.

“Combining the strengths of both companies opens new opportunities for collaboration and innovation in this space,” said Ellie Malouf.

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“We’ve made this decision to strengthen our customer offering and drive expansion. Strategically, for us, having more experts available in key locations is an important part of this merger,” continued Malouf.

In this exclusive interview with Ocean, Brock Rodwell, who now takes the reins as CEO of Ray White Marine, reveals more about the merger.

It has been 11 years since Ray White Marine launched and Brock Rodwell and his father Rick Rodwell took on the distribution of Ferretti Group brands, including Riva Yachts, Ferretti Yachts, Pershing, Itama, Custom Line, Wally and CRN. Rick Rodwell will remain in sales within the business to ensure his experience continues with the merged group.

In addition, Ray White Marine represents Sunreef catamarans and Technohull high-performance offshore RIB tenders.

Ray White Marine will continue to carry all the new vessel brands and brokerage divisions. Ahoy Club, which recently celebrated its fifth birthday, will focus on their expertise in yacht charters, management and larger-scale superyacht sales.

As Ahoy Club continues its journey to grow the yacht brokerage division globally, Brock Rodwell will also lead the global brand as Head of Yacht Sales for Ahoy Club, Asia-Pacific.

Brock said the companies spent a considerable amount of time “brainstorming how best to promote the brands together. There is no talk of a takeover,” he said emphatically.

“Both brands complement each other in different ways and both brands will run parallel beside each other in locations across the globe, including Australia, France, Monaco and Miami.”

Commenting on the impact of the next generation moving into top-level management, Rodwell stated this will drive significant changes. “There will be a change in the way vessels are marketed; the use of digital advertising, apps and drones has already changed the whole game,” he said.

“Clients want real-time responses, and your office is virtually in your pocket now. Gone are the days when you had a brokerage setup at your local marina – it’s truly a global business conducted from anywhere in the world.”

Malouf noted, “First and foremost, we know there are a limited number of female professionals in the industry, and in senior roles particularly. As the next generation, I’m sure we’ll see this shift in the industry – it’s something I’m passionate about, and you can see that in the Ahoy Club team.

“I also believe we’ll start to see a shift in a customer-centric approach throughout the industry,” she continued. “Traditionally, information has not been easily accessible to yacht owners and charterers, whereas the next generation is growing up in a digital era with access to vast amounts of information, AI and social media platforms. This exposure has shaped their expectations and preferences when it comes to customer experiences.

“Brock and I understand this so well. We live and breathe it every day, so I believe this will reshape the landscape to appeal to the new-age charterer.”

As to the increased regulation of the sales, brokerage and charter industries, these young guns are adamant that processes and procedures are there for everyone’s protection.

“It’s a positive development,” said Malouf. “It not only ensures higher standards of safety, environmental sustainability and professionalism, it also enhances customer trust and confidence in yachting, attracting more customers. As younger professionals, we embrace these changes and recognise the value they bring to the industry’s long-term growth and reputation.”

Rodwell added, “The days of winging it deal-by-deal are gone. We have proper KYC procedures [Know Your Client risk assessment], audited trust accounts and a new generation of maritime lawyers, who need to know all facets of shipping and maritime law, as well as recommendations by professional international sales and charter brokers.”

In terms of a five-year plan, their efforts are concentrated on raising their global presence. “We’ll be looking to enhance and grow our sales, charter and management offerings on a global scale, setting up professional brokers in strategic locations, while also enhancing our customer service and support for our new brands in Australia and New Zealand,” Rodwell said. “Australia has a bit of a trend with turnover of dealers and distributors.

“Our combined strength will give our customers the confidence and security that our brands will grow year-on-year, providing customer service, management and after-sales support. We will also be offering VIP experiences, such as the one and only Riva Lounge to be built in Australia.”

Rodwell will take on the position of CEO of Ray White Marine, with an active role in Ahoy. As he explained, “My focus will be on taking us digital in a big way and investing in our great team of brokers, investing in their sales training and customer service.

“I’ll be concentrating heavily on our new boat brands and the client VIP experiences we can offer. I’ll work across both brands as CEO for Ray White Marine and APAC Sales Director for Ahoy, specialising in larger superyachts.”

The benefits for Ray White Marine include established technology platforms. “Ahoy has invested heavily in both technology and experienced staff members who can assist with various back-of-house duties that can take up time for an international broker when travelling,” said Rodwell.

“They have a great track record in charters, and their growing yacht management division is very appealing to put forward to our clients. We’ll also benefit from their global footprint, having offices in locations such as Miami and Monaco.”

For Ahoy Club, the main advantages are completing the chain and supporting yacht owners and charterers globally. As Malouf explained, “There’s a notable cross-pollination effect between clients who initially explore the chartering experience and subsequently develop a desire to own a yacht.

“Brock and his team at Ray White Marine are experts in yacht sales and managing dealerships, particularly in Australasia, whereas Ahoy Club are global experts in charter and yacht management. Together, we can now provide seamless support on all yachting matters to yacht owners and charterers worldwide.

“In addition to the Riva Lounge experiences, we’ll leverage each other’s brand partners and Ahoy Club’s member events will only become bigger and better, including our annual Monaco Grand Prix experience.

“This merger allows us to leverage our combined strengths, expertise, network, resources and industry knowledge, enabling us to better support our clients and meet their diverse needs.”

 

raywhitemarine.com
ahoyclub.com

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