Deep respect for heritage, strong customer-centric ethic and a sharp eye on trends have powered the growth of one of China’s most respected ship builders. The legendary CHEOY LEE SHIPYARDS is today the pride of the industry and a ‘go-to’ name for customers. Here’s why.

Karen Lo, Deputy Director of Cheoy Lee Shipyards Ltd.

Manufacturing in China today has mega advantages and to those in the know – China is second to none where it comes to shipbuilding. In fact, most American and European firms have either parts, technology or whole crafts built there but labeled as being made overseas.

With commercial shipbuilding as a mainstay, the iconic ship builder is increasing emphasis on building custom yachts as the market for luxury water-craft is growing with affluence around the world.

Karen Lo, Deputy Director of Hong Kong-based, Cheoy Lee Shipyards Ltd, agrees that the ‘Made-in-China’ label is gaining more respect world-wide and the market for custom-built sea craft is expanding. Chinese ingenuity has changed the face of shipbuilding world-wide and Cheoy Lee’s century-old experience is more than just a milestone for China. It is a symbol of time-honoured commitment to craft, resourcefulness and ingenuity.     

Unique as You Are!

Industry sources too place the iconic ship builder as a symbol of quality, notwithstanding a legacy of growth starting way back in the late 1800’s in Shanghai. To date the company is family managed to ensure that reputation remains the hallmark of all it builds, says Lo.

“We are occasionally asked to build a custom design, where the client has a design that he would like us to build,” she says, adding that typically buyers are looking for a fully developed design. From the shipyard’s perspective, design is now often broken down into specialist areas, such as hull form, structural design, interior design, etc. The shipyard will typically coordinate all those aspects to simplify things for the buyer. On yacht projects, clients like to be involved with the finishing touches, so often work closely with interior designers to personalise the finishes.”

Purpose-Built Solutions

“As a shipbuilder, Lo says, “we focus on vessel construction, adapted as required to satisfy clients’ needs. Value added services may be offered by the selling agent to sweeten the package. On the building side, we do offer a level of customisation that other builders may not be as willing to do. On commercial and yacht projects, we do accommodate significant owner input and adjustment to the standard vessel configuration/spec to ensure the boat is a good fit for the specific owner and/or purpose.”

Cheoy Lee builds a very wide product range including tugs, ferries, crew boats, pilot boats, yachts, etc., and each sector is marketly different.

“One general trend for commercial vessels is that buyers are often now looking for ready-made inventory rather than waiting for a new vessel to be built. We have a stock building program to cater to such enquiries,” says Lo.

The market for custom-built luxury yachts is simultaneously growing as Asia’s affluent seek upmarket lifestyle changes. Poised to cater to this wave, Cheoy Lee’s luxury yacht building arm (CL Yachts), a well-referred name in the niche but growing world of luxury yachts. Speaking on the progress and prospects for CL Yachts, Lo says: “All our boats are built at our world-class facility in Zhuhai, China at a shipyard which is one of the very few fully ISO certified shipyards in China. We build vessels in aluminum, steel, and composite materials to rival the best technology and craftsmanship seen today world-wide. The Zhuhai yard has been in operation since 2000 and is approved by Lloyd’s Register, ABS, BV, DnV, CCS, RINA and OHSAS.”

Karen Lo: Speaks with Taipan Time Talk Show host Glenn Rogers before accepting the Asia’s premier business Awards for excellence in yacht and shipbuilding. She shares with a multi-national audience the amazing journey of a corporate legend that started more than 100  years ago with nothing but ‘a dream to excel’ and went on to become a quality benchmark for world-class shipbuilding.

“Because we build for the love of the voyage. Impassioned by the journeys of those who enjoy our yachts, we blend unparalleled engineering, purity in design, and exceptional craftsmanship into performance that can be felt.” – Karen Lo, Deputy Director, Cheoy Lee

Eyes On Target

“Of course we need to be aware of the competition, but over focusing on the competition is counterproductive and stifles innovation. Our position has always been to continue to improve and refine our processes to achieve higher quality and cost efficiency for our customers,” she adds.

“Following our recent rebranding, we are developing new models to reflect the evolving face of Cheoy Lee. We build a very wide range already, but continue to plug any gaps were we see a demand is present. We are constantly exploring new markets, technologies and production methods to remain at the forefront of what we do. The shipyard in China has undergone two major expansions in the past 15-years, more than doubling its original size, so we now have an ample base to work from for the coming years.”

Speaking about winning the HKMVC Award for quality shipbuilding she says: “it certainly is acknowledgement of our commitment to quality but for Cheoy Lee, commitment is a moment-to-moment factor in everything we do. For us, the journey to perfection is the destination. The internet has made the world smaller and customers today are more aware of their choices than ever before. Cheoy Lee exists because of its customers so we always deliver new ideas, design, and the latest technologies in faster ways in order to stay ahead of trends and amaze our customers. It is this thinking that has made us what we are – a humble artist that exists only for lovers of this fine art of sea-craft building.”

Beauties and the Best!

  • “CL Yachts comes from a family owned company 5 generations in the making; very few shipyards can boast such a long heritage and experience.
  • Every luxury yacht is a reflection of our capabilities and commitment to innovation.
  • Each yacht’s materials are sourced from among the best the industry has to offer, designed in partnership with creative minds from across Europe and North America.
  • Our yachts are known for their exceptional design and manufacturing, and have been recipients of a number of international yachting awards.
  • Translating to high strength-to-weight ratios and efficient performance. When it comes to strong and lightweight structures, our experience and expertise in composite design means state-of-the-art engineering and construction.
  • Our latest yachts are RINA certified, and we employ state of the art construction techniques.
  • CE certification is available on models up to 24m.
  • We offer a 10-year structural warranty.

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Hong Kong’s Business Leaders share market and interest intelligence in the pages of HKMVC 2020