In January this year, Sunseeker International, the leading British yacht manufacturer announced that it is an official FIFA partner for the upcoming World Cup in Russia.
Originally named Poole Power Boats, Sunseeker was founded by brothers Robert and John Braithwaite in 1969. The company changed its name to Sunseeker International in 1985 and has since become a global icon, with every Sunseeker the result of an uncompromising and unmatched approach to design, craftsmanship and performance.
In August 2013 a majority stake in the business was acquired by the Dalian Wanda Group, the Beijing headquartered conglomerate with strong footprints across China, Europe and the US. Wanda Group is a committed long-term shareholder providing strong financial and strategic backing for Sunseeker’s continued growth and success. In January 2015, they appointed Phil Popham as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer.
From its manufacturing base in Dorset on the south coast of England, Sunseeker employs c.2,500 people and produces around 150 boats every year ranging from 50-131 feet. Demand for the company’s larger models continues to grow year-on-year with more than 125 yachts over 100 feet in length already delivered. Owners of yachts over 100ft can also benefit from the company’s ‘Bespoke’ customisation service which allows individuals to personalise their yachts.
Phil Popham – The Driving Force of Sunseeker International.
Phil Popham is the Chief Executive of Sunseeker International, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious luxury yacht builders. The 52 year-old former Jaguar Land Rover Global Operations Director has steered the yacht firm back to the pinnacle of the industry, re-establishing a world renowned luxury brand synonymous with quality and wealth.
Despite the company’s positive image, the past – prior to Phil’s arrival saw Sunseeker International take a massive hit in light of financial difficulties with the market shrinking dramatically as wealthy customers opted to tighten their purse strings. Phil Popham was brought in to steer the business into calmer waters and 2016’s financial results showed a dramatic improvement owing massively to a change in production strategies.
Phil has enjoyed a stellar career to date and his experience and high performance in key roles at top firms has placed him as one of the UK’s most respected senior businessmen. Footballers’ Life sat down with Phil to chat about Sunseeker International and how he has led the business into economic stability.
1. 2018, three years on from when you started out with the firm. How has the company transformed since you arrived?
A – The business has transformed massively over a relatively short space of time. When I joined it was clear that there were underlying issues that needed to be addressed, and it was essential that together as a business we all pulled in the same direction to make that happen.
2. What changes have you implemented to bring such a strong level of stability and growth?
A – My previous role within the automotive industry at Jaguar Land Rover has been pivotal. When I came in, I opted to revert methods and processes to a similar mode used in the automotive industry. Alongside this it was identified that generating a solid cash foundation was a top priority.
3. Despite the continual and necessary innovative changes being added to products, in the way of heritage how important is it for Sunseeker International to remain in touch with its roots?
A – Very important. As the business continues to grow and our products are sold and used in all corners of the world it is nice to know that the very foundations of our business continues to be a British entity – formed, created and developed in Dorset. Our staff are hugely loyal, many of them have worked at Sunseeker for a substantial period of time and that allows us to remain fully in touch with where it all began.
4. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
A – There have been many challenges that I have faced throughout my career all of which have had their difficulties. I would say that my time in South Africa, setting up Jaguar Land Rover in the country was a key point in my career which will stay long in the memory. Not so much a challenge but more so an experience which took me out of my comfort zone, however I must mention that this period in my working life was hugely enjoyable.
5. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
A – Absolutely, we are extremely proud to be a partner of such a prestigious sporting event, one that will be followed closely by billions of people all across the world. From a business perspective, the brand awareness associated with such a sponsorship cannot be played down and we are massively excited to be a part of the FIFA Russian World Cup 2018.