Gastinel named as new CEO of Ponant

Sauvée stepping down after 30+ years at the helm of French luxury expedition cruise line

Credit: PONANT/Philip Plisson

Ponant has appointed Hervé Gastinel as Chief Executive Officer, commencing in the role on 29 March 2021.

Gastinel’s appointment follows an announcement in Q4 2020 in which Ponant revealed current CEO Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée would be stepping down to take on a more strategic role in the capacity of chairmanship of Ponant’s Supervisory Board. Sauvée has helmed Ponant since 1988.

Hervé Gastinel, incoming CEO of Ponant

Ponant says Gastinel’s appointment confirms its “objective to strengthen its position as [the] market leader in luxury expedition cruising and its commitment to being the world leader in sustainable tourism”.

Over the last five years the company has significantly stepped up a gear by doubling its fleet. It now has twelve (soon to be thirteen) vessels, including Le Ponant, the historic sailing yacht and Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first hybrid-electric luxury polar exploration vessel powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), due for delivery in a few months.

Ponant is a subsidiary of Artemis, a French investment company that owns, or has stakes, in businesses such as luxury group Kering and auction house Christies.

François Pinault, Artemis’ Founder and Manager, said: “I am delighted with the arrival of Hervé Gastinel, he is a true sailing enthusiast, who has all the skills to transform this wonderful company and facilitate the resumption of operations.

Outgoing Ponant CEO, Jean Emmanuel Sauvée

“After a difficult year, the next months will be decisive in accelerating Ponant’s development for the coming financial years.”

Gastinel is a true enthusiast of the sea and ships. The former officer-cadet and watch captain owns a yacht well-known on the regatta circuit and is an experienced deep-sea sailor. He took over the reins of the Beneteau group, world-leader in pleasure craft, between 2015 and 2019, increasing its turnover from €970 million to more than €1.3 billion.

“Contributing to the restart and international development of Ponant in a sector undergoing rapid transformation is a great perspective,” said Gastinel.

“I look forward to joining the Ponant team, the employees on board as well as ashore, in France and abroad, and to continuing the great entrepreneurial adventure led by Jean Emmanuel Sauvée,” he added.

Lead image: Ponant’s Le Dumont-d’Urville | credit: PONANT/Philip Plisson

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