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Sail the seven seas in luxury

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Yacht-related sales for ‘VVIPs’ make up about 80% of Vedder’s revenues. This includes the core business of interior outfitting for yachts, as well as refitting and yacht exteriors, such as deck furniture, sideboards and bars.

Residences, such as luxurious private villas and other property, were originally the mainstay of the company and still make up about 10% of sales. “We have certainly developed into a niche supplier for yachts,” says Managing Director Ludger Dohm. “I must say, though, that we have worked our way from traditional manual labour and today use mechanical technology, methods and procedures to fulfill the high demands of our customers.”

The demands to which the Managing Director refers include high-quality materials and corresponding adhesives, all of which have to be non-inflammable and waterproof.

“Each interior is ultimately a mixture of many years’ know-how and handcraft with a lot of modern technology,” Mr. Dohm explains. “Our employees cooperate with selected, qualified subcontractors to install these complex interiors.”

Quality is audited throughout the entire production process to guarantee the satisfaction of the company’s discerning end customers. In its primary field of activity, Vedder faces competition from five to seven other companies, all located in Germany, Austria or the Netherlands. Together they are the world market leaders. “Thanks to the excellent training and education in the trades in those countries, only companies from there would be able to fulfill the highest demands of customers,” says Mr. Dohm. “A company is only as good as its employees.”

It is for that reason that Vedder pays attention to qualifications of its staff and the passion and motivation they bring to their jobs. In 2013 Vedder took over a large portion of the insolvent company Loher Raumexklusiv based in Lower Bavaria. Its core business is also outfitting high quality yacht interiors and residences as well as VVIP jet interiors which form a strategic area for future development.

It also Today known as Vedder Munich, the acquisition is paving the way for future expansion. “They target basically the same clientele we do, so the step was logical,” Mr. Dohm explains. “Vedder Munich offers additional VIP services, but we do not compete because they are in the air and we are at sea. The two companies complement each other very well.”

Aircraft interiors is a field with great potential, particularly in the Asian market, where demand is increasing, and interiors for private jets completes the Vedder portfolio.

While several companies supply yacht interiors, Vedder stands out for offering exteriors, as well, and as a result is unique in its sector. “We recognized this development towards exterior living spaces years ago,” the Managing Director says. “Luxurious interiors are nothing new. The nice thing about a yacht, however, is being able to relax on the deck in the warmth of the evening as you sail the Mediterranean. And that deck can be quite stylish.”

There are many possible ways to decorate, going far beyond glossy white or teak. It is an ideal counterpart to the sophisticated interiors Vedder already supplies. Although the end customers are extremely wealthy and live all over the world, the company’s direct customers are well-established yacht yards throughout Northern Europe, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands.

Vedder is thus dependent on only a few customers, but their capacities are booked out with orders, which means Vedder is keeping busy, too. “Vedder Munich focuses on those same end customers,” Mr. Dohm points out. “Only very wealthy consumers can afford a luxurious private jet. Even business jets for the boards of major corporations are usually serial production.”

Much in the same way that Vedder Lüdinghausen supplies yacht yards, Vedder Munich supplies completion centers, which outfit private jets with the customized interiors. End customers often contact the company directly for the refit business, consisting of remodels and renovations, instead of going through a yacht yard. This area of activity is not to be overlooked as it makes up 20% of turnover.

In addition to a presence in specialist media, Vedder garners attention from potential customers by attending trade shows regularly. “The Monaco Boat Show is by far our most important fair,” Mr. Dohm notes. “We are looking forward to exhibiting in September of this year.”

The company attends another two or three fairs as a visitor. Vedder was founded by its namesake in 1893 and remained in family ownership until 2008. Since then, it has been in the hands of DEPA, headquartered in Dubai. “DEPA is active in our industry, so it is much more than just a financial investor,” Mr. Dohm notes. “Our position in a group also allows us to be involved in larger projects because we have that extra support.”

Vedder has more than 150 employees in Lüdinghausen, nearly 190 at Vedder Munich, and annual sales of roughly 60 million EUR. Mr. Dohm shares the duties of Managing Director with Stefan Radau and Nicolas Held, who heads up the Munich branch. The medium term promises smooth sailing for Vedder. “We know that the leading yacht yards have well-filled order books, which will be good for us, as well,” Mr. Dohm says.

In addition, the company is still in the process of adjusting and improving its internal structures in line with the acquisition of Vedder Munich. It aims to move away from being a craft business and become a substantial medium-sized enterprise – which includes growing to the corresponding size. “It is a challenge that we have not completed yet,” the Managing Director notes. “We have some more ideas to develop our business further.”

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