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A Big Successful Brand

An Interview with Nicholas Edmiston of Edmiston & Company at the Monaco Yacht Show

When Edmiston & Company opened its doors in 1996, the company had one clear plan - to deliver the very best in yachting. Close to ten years later, and on the second day of the 2005 Monaco Yacht Show, Edmiston and Company is one of the leading superyacht and yacht charter brokerage firms in the world. YachtChartersMagazine.TV interviewed Nicholas Edmiston, founder and chairman of Edmiston & Company at the company headquarters in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

YV&C: How are you today?
NE: Very well. Welcome to Monaco.

YV&C: Thank you. How’s the show going for you so far?
NE: Well, we’re just starting the second day and we’ve been very, very busy on day one and I think day two will be shaping up the same way. [There are] a lot of International visitors from all over the world and serious interest in big yachts both for sale and for charter.

YV&C: It looks like you’ve set up a private area here at the show for Edmiston & Co.- can you tell us about what’s going on there and why this area is important to your presence at the Monaco Yacht Show?
NE: We’re talking about very expensive items, charters anywhere [from] $100,000 per week to $1 million a week. We’re talking about yacht sales [anywhere] from $1 million up to $200 million so we need a bit of privacy.

YV&C: Can you tell me about Edmiston & Co. and how you got into the yachting business in general?
NE: Well, like most things by mistake. I worked for the city of London when I left school. I’ve always been very, very into sailing. I’ve been messing around with boats since I was about four years old and sailing since I was about ten years old and I’ve actually been selling yachts for over 35 years.

YV&C: The chartering of yachts and the public appearance of yachts in general has grown a great deal over the past couple of years.  Can you tell me why you think that is?

NE: Well, I think yachting has had a great deal of more exposure. It was seen as a very sort of protected area almost. I’m not certain yacht charter is a very good word in itself. It sort of makes people think of cheap airline flights- but yachts themselves have become much more sophisticated. The crews are highly trained. The quality of service is so much better than in the past and communication has got something to do with it. You can now be sitting on your yacht anywhere in the world [while] having direct access by high speed satellite communications both for data and voice. You can sit there and enjoy the sunshine [while talking] on a conference call to people sitting in an office in Detroit and decisions can be made and acted upon.

YV&C: And yachts seem to be getting bigger and bigger and multiplying if you will. First there were superyachts, then megayachts and now we’ve heard a new terminology—gigayachts. How much bigger will they get? And where is it going to go from here?
NE: I missed out on the gigayacht I’m probably too old fashioned for that, [but] we have seen a trend [in the market]. Fifteen years ago a 150 foot yacht was a large yacht. Today we’re seeing yachts of well over 300 feet. We’re seeing the market expand enormously. Yes, we’ll see some very, very big yachts- and there are some under construction at the moment- but I think there will still be a huge market for yachts of about 150 to 180 feet. You can get into harbors like St. Tropez and Portofino. You can enjoy being part of yachting. I think when you get very, very big there’s a danger [of becoming] more remote from the world of the sea.

YV&C: If you were chartering a yacht, where would you go? What would be your choice of destination?
NE: Well, I’m a fairly conservative sort of individual and I would also have to look at how much time I have. Certainly in the summer months I’d charter here in the Mediterranean – I think Corsica, Sardinia maybe the Croatian coast. I think what people have to understand about chartering is that you don’t necessarily need to go very long distances but you need to have a variety of places to go. I think my ideal charter is we’d wake up in the morning in a nice bay somewhere, have breakfast, maybe go somewhere during the day- anchor at lunch and move on in the evening. You have to remember one of the most important things about chartering a yacht is that the women on board have to be allowed ashore at least once every three days to go and spend money otherwise they suffer from major psychological problems [laughing].

YV&C: When it comes to your clients, do you sell or charter more?
NE: Well in natural terms of volume we probably do more chartering. We have a very big charter business. We have an office here in Monaco, we have an office in London, one in Los Angeles and one in Mexico City-- all very focused on chartering. Sales are another very important part of the business. We sell some of the major yachts in the world. That tends to be based here in Monaco but also in London or wherever our brokers happen to be. Brokers need to be out talking to yacht owners.

YV&C: Going back to yacht shows and the Monaco Yacht Show, I know we’ve seen you out and about here in the Marina. Do you personally attend many of the industry shows and if so why do you attend the ones you do?
NE: Well, certainly I attend this one because I live here in Monaco and most of the time I have my office here. Monaco is really one of the most important yachting places in the Mediterranean. They do a lot in Monaco to look after the yachts and in my view it’s probably the most important show in the world for the absolute top, top yachts. Here there are yachts from 80 feet upwards. Most shows they start at a much lower level. I also attend the Fort Lauderdale show, I quite often go to the Genoa show but for me this is the most important and I’m either here at the show or talking to my clients either on their yachts or in their offices.

YV&C: So do you have any free time, Mr. Edmiston? What do you do for relaxation? Do you own a yacht?
NE: Well, every year I think about having one and this year I did buy a small sailing yacht and occasionally I have the time to use it. I go skiing in the winter. I think I sailed ten days this year. In this game we’re dealing with big toys and we have to be there seven days a week to make sure they’re operating.

YV&C: One final question for you regarding Edmiston & Co. Your son Jamie plays an integral role in the operation of the business with you. Will Edmiston & Co. always be a family-owned business?
NE: Well who knows? We’ve built a very important brand and I have a very good team working for me here. My co-director Chris Cecil-Wright has been highly successful in yacht brokerage. My son Jamie really looks after marketing and branding extremely well and all the promotion and publicity for the company. Yes there’s no reason it shouldn’t go on. I have four children ranging from 30 down to 4 years old so we’ve got quite a few to run the business. We’re building a big successful brand and we have a very valuable business. 

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