MORE than two years after launching a new luxury boat brand on the Gold Coast, half-brothers Luke Durman and Tom Barry-Cotter are poised to crack the US market.
The co-owners of Elandra Yachts - who branched out in late 2012 after years working with family patriarch Bill Barry-Cotter at Maritimo - say they are "pumped" for a big Sydney International Boat Show this weekend.
Elandra plans to take the brand to the US next year, buoyed by a falling Australian dollar and a growing appetite for luxury motor yachts in North America.
Durman is expecting the US market to account for up to 70 per cent of production, a trend already being set by Maritimo and, to a lesser extent, Riviera.
The Arundel-based Elandra is expecting to deliver its first Elandra 53, which sells for $1.8 million, to the US late next year in response to requests by local dealers.
"It's a very important step for us and the planning and discussions are well advanced to have representation in the US for the east coast show circuit in 2016," says Durman.
The lower Australian dollar is giving Australian manufacturers a new edge in both domestic and offshore sales.
"What is a very good product offering to start with is now 25 per cent cheaper (than the company envisaged in 2012)," says Durman.
"The Elandra product will be very competitively priced against its competitors in the US market. As for dealers, we will look to have factory direct representation. That may involve working with a few select US dealers."
Elandra is best described as a luxury sports yacht designed to take on the might of European boat manufacturers that dominate the space. The key selling points are high-grade engineering and fuel efficiency, with the Elandra 53 said to be 28 per cent more fuel efficient than the equivalent Princess model.
"We matched everything the British and Italian boats can offer, but the real point of difference is our performance," says Durman.
"It's a smooth ride, very robust and can get you from the Gold Coast to Sydney at an average speed of 26 knots without refuelling."
Durman and his team cut through with the Elandra 53 to Sydney on their way to the boat show at an average of 30knots.
Durman says Elandra Yachts is on track with its growth plan set in 2012.
"This financial year, we will build four boats - three 53s and one 49. Then we anticipate building six or seven in the 2017 financial year as we move in to the US."
Plans are afoot to pump $3.5 million into research and development as the company focuses in the next half on developing new models, including the Elandra 49 which will be an extension of the initial 47, as well as developing a 60-foot-plus model.
The company has taken an extra 1000sqm at its Arundel base to accommodate the new division.
Durman and Barry-Cotter set out on their own with a plan to explore the boundaries of luxury yacht production, driven by the philosophy of "inshore elegance and offshore attitude".
Durman says Elandra is not about competing with the likes of Riviera and Maritimo as a production manufacturer.
"We're a semi-custom builder. We want to keep it small and keep it manageable. If we're doing 12 boats a year in the next few years we'll be very happy."
Elandra Yachts, which is also actively targeting the New Zealand market, employs 19 staff, with 15 of those involved in production.
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