Big decisions from Ribeye pay dividends as sales of six XOs reported

In early summer 2022 Ribeye announced it had become a long term distribution partner for XO boats, a Nordic manufacturer. In a mere eight weeks, it’s taken six orders with more expected to conclude at SIBS where the company is currently hosting clients in a delightfully bijou tent, as well as showing XO’s DFNDR 9 and more alongside the Ribeye range.

According to James Burroughs, MD of Ribeye there are “lots of people bringing in a lot of great boats now.” And this has informed his development decision, for Ribeye to simply offer the ‘best ones’.

He’s coming from a steady foundation. An order book of about 18 months, growing capacity and the fact he says he “made a big decision to buy a lot of stuff at the right time,” has left the company ready to weather inflation, supply chain issues and more. “Fortunately we hedged it the right way,” he says.

With Ribeye now taking XO boats and customising them to client requirements, he’s “now a dealer as well as a boat builder.

“You can have an XO as it comes out of factory but people come to Ribeye to engage with us and bring on customised renders,” he says. This takes place at the factory in Dartmouth where a new 15,000 square foot facility is currently in build. This is to aid the growth in the company’s yacht tender business too and Burroughs hopes the premises, which houses 72 staff in total, will be finished in December 2022.

“It’s an interesting journey,” Burroughs says. “Our guys love the customisation and working on it. Each [boat] is fitted out by one guy. They do all of it rather than working as a production factory. It’s about how to build it really well, not how to make it more efficient for production.”

Burroughs points out that this ethos comes from being a second-gen family business and wanting everyone working for the company to enjoy what they do. “We never wanted to be about just selling product,” he says.

He refers to ‘localisation and customisation’ of the XO as “our little niche” and describes how his team “bring certain elements ‘up’,” to customer specification. This attention to detail, he hopes, will help grow the brand in the UK leisure space.

James Burroughs MD Ribeye at Southampton International Boat Show 2022

Once customisation is done, Ribeye adds a layer of service on top, says Burroughs.

He believes that the brand synergy which Ribeye shares with XO means the two sit well alongside each other, in fact he says they ‘vibe’. He extols the rugged and ‘voluminous’ nature of the XO’s and says the differences in engineering may potentially open up a new direction for his company, while teasing that there’s a ‘really exciting’ model coming from XO.

Ribeye is exhibiting its own range and ‘XO by Ribeye’ at stand S001. Burroughs is quick to point out, though, that he’s continuing with the whole Ribeye range: “100 per cent.”

The segment which Ribeye operates in [superyacht tenders / premium leisure boats] has blown up over the last few years. This has led to its new long term strategy, to localise products and understand the British market more. He says that being constantly referred to as a ‘trusted advisor’ has opened the door to how the company deals with clients – honing their experience throughout the duration of their Ribeye ownership.

Underpinning this, Burroughs has witnessed a change in people’s relationships with their craft with the desire for less time spent tinkering and more time on the water. This has led to Ribeye offering complete management of time. For example, he sends his staff all over the world to sort problems, which Burroughs says is “not a horrendous cost.

“There are no quibbles. You don’t have to bring the boats back. We go to the mooring. We take your boat and put another one in its place.”

“This is a journey and we’re learning what we want to do,” he says.

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