INTERVIEW available in the last Bretagne Sailing Valley® News – Newsletter #11 – Autumn 2022
Founded in 1999 by Samuel Marsaudon, the Marsaudon Composites yard, based at Lorient La Base, was taken over in early 2018 by Frédéric Blandin and Damien Cailliau. Now managing Director and alone at the helm, this latter takes stock of the development of the company which specializes in high-performance cruising catamarans.
Damien how has the yard developed since you took over?
It has evolved quite significantly: we have gone from a fairly artisanal company to what I call a factory, something a little more industrial. Since 2018 we have structured the company, particularly in terms of its production tooling. That was firstly by investing massively in the tools needed to launch the ORC 57, but also because it was necessary to modernize, rationalize and bring the existing tools up to standard. And as the site itself has expanded and we have also made significant investments in logistics and the production flow.
You talk about growth, can you give us figures?
We were at 4.5-5 million euros in turnover and less than 50 employees at the time of the takeover, compared to 8-9 million euros and 80 to 85 today. The business model has also evolved, in the sense that Marsaudon Composites relied on three activities: composite subcontracting, the manufacture of boats ready to sail for others, and its own brand, with the TS42 and the first TS5. Today, we focus mainly on our own brand, which has evolved – from TS to ORC (Ocean Rider Catamarans) – and has been significantly expanded to the point it represents 90% of our activity. In 2018, 10 of the 42-footers were produced, we have just delivered the 25th; the 50 was just coming to market, we delivered the 19th, as for the 57, it did not exist, the first boat was launched in March and number two being finalized as the building of hulls three and four are ready to start. We haven’t left composite subcontracting aside, which remains a key skill. We are a Lorient company from Lorient, company which sources as much as possible from local suppliers and manufacturers, we want to contribute to developing the centre of excellence that is Bretagne Sailing Valley by making available our skills in terms of infusion and our 30 metre long oven which has the capacity to bake very large parts.
How do you see the state of the market today?
It is a growing market, we are seeing a return to these kinds of catamarans which offer the feeling of proper sailing as distinct from boats that put accommodation and comfort at the forefront. Most of the other operators are positioned closer to luxury, such as Gunboat; we are slightly more austere refined boats with much lower prices. Today, our clientele is half French and half foreign, but the trend is towards a growing proportion of foreigners, especially in Southern Europe – particularly in Italy – and Northern Europe (Belgium, Germany, Finland, etc.), as well as in the United States.
Are you having difficulty growing?
The major limiting factors are the lack of appetite for composite boat building as a trade, and therefore recruitment, but also space which is beginning to be lacking in Lorient if we want to expand, but also the general increasing costs, particularly of raw materials and energy, which inevitably impact on us.
You will have four ORC 50s at the start of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe (skippered by Loïc Escoffier, Halvard Mabire, Gwen Chapalain and Brieuc Maisonneuve), is this a good exposure for the brand?
It’s extremely interesting in terms of image, the opportunity to demonstrate the quality and performance potential of the boats, but it’s a double-edged sword because there is maybe a risk that it will be identified as a racing boat, and we may be then see customers bypass the boat considering that it is not for them. The ORC 50 is a cruising boat even if its performance potential will allow some to go racing, provided it is prepared accordingly, but that is only an extreme, marginal application. Remember there are only six boats racing of all the 50s that sail.
Crédit photo : © Qaptur / Marsaudon Composites
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