After protracted negotiations and a long and circuitous slog through Italy’s bankruptcy courts, Grand Soleil is starting the new year under new ownership. A group headed by entrepreneur Davide Trevisani now owns the majority stake in the renowned brand, which used to be part of Dufour and, by extension, also Bavaria Yachts.
Thus Trevisani is continuing to invest in the leisure boat industry, after taking a controlling interest in Sly Yachts about a year ago. His latest acquisition netted him the modern production facility of Cantiere del Pardo in Forli near the shores of the northern Adriatic, where Grand Soleil yachts are being built. In the future, Cantiere del Pardo is also going to build Sly Yachts while adding new models to the Grand Soleil lineup.
Throughout its 40-year history, Grand Soleil has built a reputation for performance cruisers that won their fair share of silver on the racecourse. But Trevisani also plans to expand the offering with more comfort-oriented vessels, thus taking a page from X-Yachts in Denmark that has added the XC line of lavishly appointed cruising boats to their XP performance models.
Grand Soleil will be managed Michel Delagarde, who had worked at Cantiere del Pardo several years ago and by Fabio Planamente who are replacing former CEO Ruggero Gandolfi and Gianguido Girotti, the head of head of product design.
In consultation with labor unions, the new management is said to have charted a course of cutbacks, due to low demand. Yet industry insiders consider this development a step in the right direction, because Trevisani’s financial means are seen as sufficient for a successful restructuring of the ailing brand.
His investment has been in the works for a while and it also marks the end of the expansion plans of Bavaria, Germany’s largest sportboat brand. Since Bavaria’s investors Anchorage and Oaktree directed the company to refocus on its core business, Dufour and Cantiere del Pardo were on the chopping block.
First Dufour gained independence as it now is run by a regional bank and the company’s management led by Salvatore Serio. In mid December of 2013 the court also approved the takeover of Grand Soleil. It is rumored that other suitors for the yard in Forli included Solaris and Azuree, but their offers were not accepted.
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