(By Gordon Sorlini) Genoa, October 15 - Seaworthy millionaires looking to enjoy a taste of la bella vita while on the high seas have it easy thanks - in part - to Italy's Ferretti Group. One of Italy's - and the world's - leading yacht builders, Ferretti showcased its dreamboats at the recent Genoa Boat Show: seven brands - Ferretti, Pershing, Itama, Bertram, Riva, Mochi Craft and CRN - each with its own distinct personality. Ferretti's Italian heritage is one of its key attractions. The group produces all its lines in Italy, bar Bertram - a US acquisition which maintains production overseas - and some models made in Brazil, for the Brazilian market, where local manufacturing is the only way to get around high import tariffs.

"Made in Italy is a great brand," Ferruccio Rossi, Ferretti Group's chief executive officer tells Ansa. "Being 'made in Italy' is not a secondary aspect of our value proposition: to our customers our Italian roots are the driver that brings them to us. "They want Italian creativity and design. But we also have to deliver quality and a product which meets their expectations".

Nowhere was the group's ability to deliver on this promise more apparent in Genoa than on the 80-plus meter super-yacht, Chopi Chopi, built by CRN. Recently delivered after more than three years of construction and owned by a rich Lebanese family - who, rumors at the boat show have it, shelled out some 80 million euros - the yacht seemed more like a luxury cruise liner, making nearby-berthed, 30-plus meter yachts seem like toys. Adorned with a part of the family's private art collection, the floating mansion hosts five five decks - one in part dedicated to the family's bedrooms and offices one dedicated to the owner - and a sub lower deck, as well as its own wellness center and with spa and a "beach club". Outdoor Jacuzzis, a helipad and space for a permanent crew of 30 are just some of the other features that made Chopi Chopi the star of the show. Any visitor chancing to stumble upon the pilot bridge could be excused for thinking he ended up on the bridge of Star Trek's Enterprise.

"All the technology is designed and made in Italy," Rossi says proudly, emphasizing how Italian technical excellence is often underestimated. Chopi Chopi is clearly unique: "It's the ultimate proof of our ability to realize dreams," says Rossi, who has been with the group for eight years, previously as chief executive of Riva and head of the group's Americas unit. However Ferretti's other yachts share the same attention to assembled perfection, finest quality materials, near made-to-measure, tailored interiors and clever design aimed at squeezing out as much space as possible for passengers. Not surprisingly, the group's entry-level offer starts at about 300,000 euros and the average sticker price is about 2.5 million euros, Rossi tells Ansa for Italy.

Aside from Chopi Chopi, in Genoa the group brought its newest entries, including the Ferretti Yacht 960, with an entry-level price of about seven million euros. Since the yacht's official presentation in June, Rossi explains, the company has already sold six, to clients in the US, France, Greater China and Italy.

Among other innovations on display, Ferretti showcased a new yacht from its Pershing performance line, dedicated to lovers of speed - the Pershing 62. Presented in September at the Cannes boat show, and despite a catalog price of about two million euros, the company has already sold two.

The Ferretti Group's future looks bright. A Chinese industrial group, Weichai, bought a majority stake in the Italian shipbuilder in January 2012, replenishing its coffers. Between now and 2018, according to Rossi, Ferretti will invest over 80 million euros - mostly in the company's core brands, Ferretti, Pershing and Riva, as well as in the development of one-off mega-yachts like the Chopi Chopi. All the while it will continue to invest in its distribution network, which, with Weichai's help, will allow it to ride the region's growth wave.


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