An Interview with Steve Handy – Sunseeker Portugal

You’ve been busy with the new showroom at Vilamoura Marina, what works have been carried out and what facilities will be available to clients? Do you have an open day scheduled, time/date etc? 

We are very proud to present our newly rebuilt office/shop, formerly a golf accessories store near Hugo Boss on the east side of the marina. This lavish transformation boasts several stunning features, including two meeting rooms – one for Sunseeker clients with samples and materials, and the other for Axopar clients. A VIP airport lounge-style kitchen offering complimentary drinks for clients to enjoy either in our elegant lounge or the upcoming outdoor terrace, set to open by early September. 

The interior lounge proudly showcases remarkable art from Loule’s renowned art gallery, Art Catto. Our dedicated teamwork from a thoughtfully laid out space and stunningly designed bathroom with a ceiling-hanging tap, courtesy of Antonio Luppi. 

We look forward to announcing the date for our opening party in due course.


What services do Sunseeker Portugal provide?

At our exclusive establishment, we take immense pride in being the sole supplier of Sunseeker luxury motor yachts, Axopar boats, and Brabus Marine super boats in Portugal. Our reach doesn’t stop there, as we extend our services to provide top-notch brokerage assistance for pre-owned motor yachts, regardless of the brand, catering to both buyers and owners. As part of the esteemed Sunseeker London Group, operating across 20 EU countries, we boast unparalleled expertise in handling cross-border issues concerning VAT, title paperwork, Brexit repercussions, and various ownership requirements, ensuring a seamless and secure purchasing experience for our clients in Portugal and beyond. 

Charter services are a forte of ours, with a diverse fleet of exclusive boats operating in Portugal and throughout Europe. From delightful afternoons on a 28ft Axopar, priced from €800 Euro for an afternoon charter, to luxurious week-long charters on a 50m Sunseeker cruising Italy and Croatia, costing approximately €250,000 Euro per week, we curate unforgettable experiences tailored to our client’s desires and budgets. 

Guardianship and maintenance form the core of our organisation. We recognise the significance of keeping our clients boating, and our extensive size and experience allow us to excel in this domain. A dedicated team serves as virtual yacht captains, ensuring that the assets our clients acquire are impeccably maintained and looked after, whether it’s a routine weekly wash down or an annual engine service. No task is too big or too small when it comes to safeguarding their investments. 

 In essence, our team specialises in comprehending our clients’ desires for enjoying their time onthe water, expertly matching them with suitable products or services that align with their budget. With unwavering professionalism, we ensure that each lifestyle decision they make in the realm of boating is the absolute best for their needs and aspirations. 


How do Sunseeker UK and Sunseeker Portugal operate, is it a franchise? 

Sunseeker Portugal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sunseeker London Group, stands as the largest global distributor of Sunseeker products. Originating in 1993, the company has achieved remarkable growth, now holding the position of the primary Sunseeker retailer in Europe. Additionally, our influence extends to being a significant retailer of Axopar and Brabus Marine products across Europe, serving customers in over 12 different countries. 


In the now, explain the team/responsibilities and partnerships. 

We have a dedicated team of nine, soon to expand to ten with the addition of another Sales Executive, enhancing our capability to serve our valued clientele even better. 

We have numerous international and local partnerships that enrich our services. The power of The Sunseeker London Group, with 175 highly professional staff, and 26 offices across 20 countries. As part of this group, we benefit from extensive support in paperwork, conveyancing, and the expertise of an in-house lawyer who adeptly handles litigation, defending Sunseeker and assisting our valued customers. Sales admin staff, boasting over 30 years of industry experience, facilitate smooth transactions and possess a comprehensive understanding of cross-border VAT issues. Investing over half a million pounds as a group of international tax advisors, we have meticulously structured our operations within Europe post-Brexit, ensuring our clients’ interests remain safeguarded when purchasing new or pre-owned boats. 

While based in Portugal, our reach extends far beyond with a robust presence in the international market due to our size and scale. We proudly embody the essence of a one-stop-shop solution, where buying a boat from Mario in Technimarine in Portugal provides the same seamless experience as driving an Azimut into Mallorca, maintaining the consistency of service across Europe. 

Our unique position grants clients unmatched flexibility to move their boats across Europe effortlessly, making us the only single-boat brand business in Europe capable of offering such convenience, and undeniably the best option in Portugal. This hassle-free approach allows clients to focus on enjoying their boating lifestyle, knowing that our expert team is always there to provide unwavering support and service. 

Are there new boats scheduled for Sunseeker? Has the building situation improved and back to a level of pre-pandemic build?  

The eagerly awaited new Ocean 156 is set to launch in Dusseldorf in January 2024, promising an exciting addition to our product lineup. While our business has made strides towards recovery, it has not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels, currently producing 130 boats per year, down from the previous 160. Supply chain improvements have led to significant enhancements, but delays persist and continue to affect our production schedule. 


The impact of the marina expansion, what positives does this hold for Sunseeker? 

Indeed, the prospect of Vilamoura Marina being under new ownership and eager to develop all real estate within Vilamoura brings exciting opportunities. Vilamoura World’s intention to extend its base aligns perfectly with Sunseeker’s interests, as it presents significant advantages. The recent influx of new boat owners entering the market during the pandemic has resulted in a shortage of berths at Vilamoura Marina and throughout the Algarve. Therefore, any additional capacity created by the expansion would be highly beneficial, ensuring ample berths are available to accommodate new boat sales and contributing to increased profitability for both parties involved. 


Has the demographic of boat sales changed over the years and do you notice younger boat owners? 

The evolution of Sunseeker’s product line over the years reflects a strategic shift towards the larger boat market, focusing on more profitable ventures. Originally founded in 1969, Sunseeker’s roots trace back to customising smaller boats, but it has since transitioned to cater to the Superyacht territory. This shift has attracted a different type of customer, with a massive influx of millennials now entering the boat-buying market. 

Previously, the majority of Sunseeker’s customer base comprised baby boomers and Generation X, with only a few millennials. However, with the lowest-priced products now starting at 55 feet and £1.6 million, Sunseeker has become an aspirational brand, attracting entrepreneurs, and individuals who achieve success at a young age, often by selling their own businesses. 

The changing landscape of boat buyers can be attributed, in part, to the rise of the internet sensations and social media influencers, who have captured the attention of younger audiences and sparked interest in luxury lifestyles, including owning yachts. This shift in the demographic of boat-buyers is a testament to the brand’s adaptability and appeal to a new generation of successful and aspirational individuals. 

What exciting things in 2023 can we look forward to at Sunseeker? 

In 2023, Sunseeker made a significant office change, having been in their fairly high-profile marina office for the past 7 years until October 2022. Although there was no auto-renew contract in place, new shareholders of the marina were eager to capitalise on their real estate and develop Vilamoura’s land, leading Sunseeker to relocate. 

The move was deeply upsetting, leaving behind a deck, ramps, and moorings that were not only convenient but also highly prestigious. However, the team at Sunseeker is committed to reassuring clients that despite the change of location, the core essence of the business remains unaltered. The products continue to be industry-leading, and the dedication to serving clients with the utmost care and professionalism remains unwavering. 

In their new office at Vilamoura Marina, Sunseeker finds exciting opportunities with larger office space, providing ample room to enhance their client service experience. Although the terrace might be smaller, the focus is on leveraging the increased office space to better cater to clients’ needs and preferences. 

Sunseeker’s commitment to Portugal remains resolute, evident through their 10-year rental agreement with an auto-renewal option and the right to buy the property. This underscores their long-term investment in the country and their desire to continue serving the boating community with excellence. 

The new office opens up exciting possibilities, offering more scope for accommodating clients and showcasing their remarkable range of products. Sunseeker eagerly anticipates the main September boat show and the grand opening event, using these opportunities to highlight the positive aspects of their new location and reaffirm their dedication to delivering exceptional service in Portugal.