Smooth Sailing

WA­TER The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hong Seh Ma­rine, Ed­ward Tan, talks about his multi-brand dis­trib­u­tor­ship’s re­newed fo­cus on the high seas.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Wheels - By Daryl lee robb re­port

On the cusp of this year’s Sin­ga­pore Yacht Show, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hong Seh Ma­rine, Ed­ward Tan, is up­beat. His multi-brand dis­trib­u­tor­ship will cel­e­brate its 10th an­niver­sary next year, and hav­ing re­cently di­vested it­self of most of its au­to­mo­tive in­ter­ests, has its eye firmly set on the lux­ury plea­sure craft sec­tor.

Is it a big jump to go from cars to lux­ury yachts?

F rom a b usi­ness p oint o f view, it’s pro­gres­sion. we were al­ready deal­ing in lux­ury items, so where do you go from there? And we de­cided to go into yachts, be­gin­ning with riva, which has

a part­ner­ship with Fer­rari. the brand­ing, price po­si­tion and life­style is al­ready some­thing we’re ac­cus­tomed to, and so is our clien­tele. How did it all start? ten years ago, I met the riva peo­ple at the (Sin­ga­pore) Yacht Show and we started talk­ing about how we could work to­gether. we wanted to help build the brand and the in­dus­try, be­cause at that point in time, yacht­ing in Sin­ga­pore wasn’t there at all.

It’s been a decade, would you say yacht­ing has ar­rived in the re­gion?

I wouldn’t say it’s got­ten there yet, but it’s be­gin­ning to pick up. we’ve got a good five years to go yet. It’s not just about hav­ing mari­nas, it’s about a com­plete life­style with food, en­ter­tain­ment, ship chan­d­ler­ing for peo­ple to want to travel by yacht. Why do you think it’s taken so long? In asia, it’s al­ways been about sail­boats, not mo­to­ry­achts, which cater mostly to non-lo­cals, and there are other rea­sons, too. For ex­am­ple, when we sell a boat, it doesn’t stop there. we tell our cus­tomers that a (plea­sure craft) li­cence isn’t re­quired be­cause we can supply cap­tains. You could qual­ify for a li­cence, and we could help you make the ar­range­ments, but there’s re­ally no need. we have cap­tains, crew and main­te­nance ser­vices avail­able, so you don’t have to worry about any­thing. we give you a menu to pick the ser­vices you need. we even go the ex­tra mile and tell you where and when to go.

Do you think these ex­ten­sive ser­vices are im­por­tant in help­ing build up a cul­ture of boat­ing in the re­gion?

this is the sort of cus­tomer ser­vice cul­ture which we were brought up to be­lieve in. when we started in yachts, we had to learn ev­ery­thing our­selves and had our own lit­tle mishaps along the way with our own boats. we got our boats stuck on a reef, get­ting stranded be­cause we for­got to check the con­di­tion of the boat’s bat­tery. So, we can say we’ve been there, done that and we did it on our own. About those cus­tomers you men­tioned, how many of them are new to yacht­ing? around three­quar­ters of them are new. And why is that? they’re get­ting bored! what else is there to do in Sin­ga­pore? You can find the lat­est restau­rant or buy the lat­est car, but with taxes the way they are for the lat­ter, peo­ple are ask­ing why they should get one here when they could get it for cheaper in eng­land or Ger­many where they could have a holiday home to go with it. For yachts, you pay seven per cent GST and that’s it, and it’s trad­able any­where in the world, and with­out the con­straints of a 10-year COE.

Surely buy­ing a yacht isn’t just about dol­lars-and-cents de­ci­sions?

we pro­mote yacht­ing as a way for cus­tomers to bond with their friends and fam­ily. we’re glued to our mo­bile phones and so­cial me­dia all the time. On a boat, you can play with your phone all you want, but you don’t have a sig­nal. It al­lows you to de­velop what some peo­ple call the long lost art of con­ver­sa­tion. www. hongsehma­ ≠

“It’s not just about hav­ing mari­nas, it’s about a com­plete life­style.”

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