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January 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Aggressor and Peter Hughes Fleets: Now Under One Owner

from the January, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In case you missed it, Wayne Brown purchased Peter Hughes Diving, Inc. and related companies last March. What makes that particularly newsworthy is that Brown had purchased the Aggressor business the year before. It doesn’t mean that he owns all the boats - - many have business partners - - but it does mean that it’s now all one fleet.

Brown, an avid diver who once paid to take his own liveaboard trips, had owned 60 Taco Bell restaurants but bailed out in 2006, just a week before the 2006 E. coli scare. He purchased the Aggressor company in April 2007, then bought the London-based luxury travel service Latitude International, and has several other businesses as well.

While Brown is CEO, Peter Hughes has been retained as president of the Hughes division, and Wayne Hasson as president of the Aggressor. We asked Hughes whether the fact that the two fleets were under one roof would stifle competition. “No way, dude,” he said. “We very much intend to maintain our separate identities, e.g., Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Cunard, etc. - - all owned by one parent but all separate, operated independently and very much in competition with each other! Same for us - - my goal remains that Peter Hughes and the Dancer Fleet will always be recognized as the best in the world!”

Hughes’ new boss echoed his remarks in a phone interview with Undercurrent. “They’re staying separate and staying distinct, like Ford and Lincoln, because they each have very loyal customers. Peter and Wayne will continue to run operations until they decide they don’t want to.” Brown plans to put more money into each fleet’s sales and guest-services departments but otherwise, the only way he sees the two fleets coming together is when he can use them as leverage with suppliers. “I’ll get a better deal on savings when I buy 200 tanks instead of 100 tanks.”

Brown prefers to be known as the silent owner. He bought the Peter Hughes company because of its loyal customer base, which he says will keep it going during this tanking economy. “Many dive resorts and day boats were created to be jobs rather than businesses and those will never sustain themselves in normal times, much less tough times. There will be shrinkage in this industry, but that’s a good thing. The people running businesses, who realize customer service and operations go side by side, will come out even stronger.”

That these two liveaboard fleets now have the same owner raises the question about whether there will be price competition between them. The answer is probably that the price of a dive trip with either fleet isn’t going to go down.

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