Cigarette goes high fashion

If Skip Braver has his way, there will be as many people wearing Cigarette Racing t-shirts as wear Harley Davidson t-shirts in a few years. But that’s doesn’t mean Cigarette is taking its boats to the masses.
“A lot of the people that wear Harley Davidson t-shirts don’t own Harleys,” he explains.
Braver, president and CEO of the power boat builder, says the company has eliminated its 20-foot models and is now concentrating on larger, faster and thus more expensive boats.
“Our mix will be skewed very heavily toward our 46- and 48-foot boats,” explained Braver.
Like the boats Cigarette Racing builds, the clothing line it has purchased also targets a high-end consumer. The high fashion Cigarette Racing Team Collection by Susan Fixel will start as a sportswear collection with plans to evolve the line to include a “couture collection for après boating,” according to the company.
“The Cigarette boat owner has extremely high taste – our lowest priced boat is over $250,000 and goes up to $800,000,” says Braver. “We wanted to offer our customer more than a t-shirt and cap.”
The line was launched at the beginning of the summer and was scheduled to go on sale on the Cigarette Web site as of August 1. Braver says there will be a winter line in the boutique stores later this year, and another collection will debut before the Fort Lauderdale and Miami boat shows.
The company’s new clothing line is only the beginning of many extensions the company is seeking for its Cigarette Racing Team brand, according to Braver.
Going beyond profitable
Since Braver purchased Cigarette Racing LLC with partner Neill Hernandez in March of last year, he has brought the boat building company back to a state of profitability.
This was accomplished by updating the company’s purchasing, control and computer systems, as well as re-evaluating Cigarette’s dealer base and product mix, Braver explains.
Now, Braver expects the company to experience further growth.
“[The clothing line] will give us the revenue stream for the two new boats we’re bringing in next year,” he explained. “It will give us the wherewithal to make the company even more profitable.”
And he predicts the company’s introduction of the two new models will further spur sales. However, sales already are strong, according to Braver. There currently is a three- or four-month wait, which is expected to continue.
Despite its success, the company does face intense competition – but not from the boating industry.
“Our biggest competitor is a summer house,” according to Braver. “You can buy a condo on the beach for what our boats cost.”
— Liz Walz

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