Biz Extra

Published: July 3, 2022 | Updated: July 3, 2022

Turning the spotlight on Gibbs Quay Boat Sales and it’s a very warm welcome aboard to Vickie

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Welcome to the latest Marine Matters from Gallagher.

This month we meet Don Bissessar, Managing Director, Gibbs Quay Boat Sales (GQBS) in Poole.

Gallagher is proud to act on behalf of Gibbs and provide yacht insurance to some of its customers.

We also welcome Vickie Fox to Gallagher as an Account Executive.

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Don Bissessar, Managing Director, Gibbs Quay Boat Sales (GQBS).

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been married to Geraldine for 45 years and we have two boys, Nathan, 32, and Nicolas, 43.

I started out in my career doing a five-year electrical apprenticeship with British Airways. I left in 1981 and started my own business in the marine sector, in sales, and bought in to GQBS in 1986.

We were located on the banks of the River Thames until we moved to our Poole premises in 2012, albeit we’d had an outlet in Poole for over 30 years, with a sub dealership in Cobbs Quay.

We have four full-time sales and general admin staff and three part-timers, plus myself.

What’s the history of Gibbs Quay Boat Sales?

The business has a wonderful heritage and was originally established in 1906 as Kenneth M Gibbs & Company and located at Shepperton on the banks of the River Thames, just outside London. The company has evolved over the years from boat builders into the thriving motor and sports boat dealership that it is today.

London Boat Show in the late 1950’s.

Kenneth was not only a boat builder but a talented yacht designer with a number of designs to his name, both motor and sail. Two of his more famous small boat designs being the YM Senior and YM Junior (the YM standing for Yachting Monthly magazine which promoted the designs). Thankfully a few of these graceful little yachts can still be found in the world today.

Kenneth was renowned for his motor launches and small yachts. He may have put down his tools some time ago but the ideals, spirit and values he had when he first opened the company live on in the business today.

Tell us about the business as it is today.

Gibbs Quay Boat Sales is now one of the largest sports boat and cruiser dealerships in the country and we are the UK importers and distributers for some of the world’s leading manufacturers. Brands represented include Schaefer Yachts, Cobalt Boats, Salpa, Grandezza and Atlantic Marine. We sell such different brands to cater for the different sectors of the market and to accommodate the varied budgets and needs.

A Cobalt 36BR – performance, style and space only a Cobalt can deliver.

We are located on the shores of Poole Harbour and have a private boat yard with superb modern offices, showrooms and workshops, we’re perfectly positioned. Poole is known as the ‘boating mecca’ of the UK!

I like to say that the dedication forged from over 100 years of operating in the yachting world means that we offer an unrivalled knowledge, passion and service that only an established main dealer can deliver.

The boating scene has grown and exploded since we came out of lockdown, like most other recreational sports. People have emerged, post pandemic, with changed attitudes and seem to realise the value of living, appreciate the world more and are much more environmentally aware.

Grandezza 34oc – perfect for the sea all year round.

A lot of our custom is from repeat customers, from all over the world. We also have a loyal client base locally, with many people upgrading their boats annually.

Which boat shows do you visit?

We tend to only participate in major boat shows such as Southampton and the latest one being the inaugural boat show at the NEC in Birmingham, which was excellent. We showed there this year and made some very successful business deals, so have decided to double our space there for next year. It’s a great location as it attracted lots of visitors who wouldn’t necessarily make the Southampton Boat Show.

Grandezza’s current flagship – the 37CA – the 2021 Yacht of the Year.

We always showed at the Poole Harbour Boat Show in the past too, it was really good for business and sales. We’re looking forward to it returning at some point in the future.

We feel that we don’t need to do other boat shows because we have a permanent boat show here, 24/7, in our stunning location, opposite the Twin Sails Bridge.

We hear you are involved in your local community?

We support our local football team, Hamworthy Football Club, and are proud to be sponsors within their community.

Do you enjoy boating yourself?

Yes, I’m a keen boater and like to get out on the water with Geraldine, whenever we get the opportunity. We often go to Lulworth Cove or across to the Isle of Wight, we particularly enjoy Yarmouth. We also love discovering new spots to visit.

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Gallagher adds further expertise to its specialist retail marine practice

Gallagher has appointed Vickie Fox as an Account Executive in its specialist Poole-based marine practice.

Vickie joins from International General Insurance Company (UK) Ltd, where she was an underwriter specialising in marine trades.

Vickie previously worked for Gallagher as a broker, and having held roles at firms including Amlin and Bluefin, she returns with 20 years’ experience, most of which she has spent specialising in marine risks.

She has extensive knowledge of creating tailored insurance programmes for a wide range of marine clients and is experienced in developing new business.

At Gallagher, Vickie will work alongside five other Account Executives specialising in the marine space, and will be responsible for building and maintaining relationships for marine trade clients.

Gallagher’s Poole-based marine practice, previously known as Coleman Marine, offers specialist risk management advice and insurance across classes including yacht & motorboat, superyacht, marine trade & cargo and commercial craft.

Based in offices on Poole Quayside the team provides a dedicated service to a range of clients from small privately owned vessels up to a number of the top 100 superyachts in the world.

Commenting on her appointment, Andrew Skinner, Head of Gallagher’s Poole-based specialist marine practice, said: “We are delighted to welcome Vickie to the team.

“Her thorough knowledge of the sector and her background in both broking and underwriting means she is well placed to provide clients with a great experience.

“Her extensive experience in relationship building across our sector will hugely benefit our team, and enhance the relationships we already have, as well as provide us with the opportunity to further grow our services and client base.”

Vickie added: “I am delighted to have joined the team at Gallagher and very much look forward to helping grow the business as well as build on existing relationships, offering a first class experience for all our clients.”