The independent trading of secondhand business jets has never been a profession that required much infrastructure. The business model is typically a broker working out of an anonymous rented office or a hotel bedroom buying and selling jets as the opportunities arise on behalf of clients and collecting a commission.
Steve Varsano hopes to change all that. Anyone driving around one of central London's busiest traffic hubs, Hyde Park Corner, in recent days will have spotted something entirely incongruous among the distinguished former town houses on Grosvenor Place that face the garden of Buckingham Palace and are today are home to embassies, corporate HQs and lobby groups. Part of the ground floor of One Grosvenor Place, an office block at the south-west end of the huge traffic island, has been transformed into the sort of showroom that you will never have seen before.
The Jet Business, which opened for business this week, comprises a sales room that is a full-scale cabin mock up of an Airbus ACJ318 - when the blinds are opened you can see right into it from the street. It comes complete with luxury leather seats, a giant Bang & Olufsen TV with surround-sound that rises from a marbled cabinet, champagne-filled fridge, mood lighting and windows showing a gently moving cloudscape.
The adjoining reception area has a giant video wall on which pages from The Jet Business's app can be projected, showing, among other things, full-size comparative fuselage cross-sections and performance specs on virtually every type on the market.
The effect is utterly James Bond, and although Varsano - a veteran of pre-owned business jet remarketing - has no designs on world domination, he does plan to transform the way used aircraft are sold. Nothing like this has been attempted before, not even by the OEMs.
The location, he figures, puts The Jet Business in full view of virtually every high-net-worth individual that passes through London. Hyde Park corner connects the luxury hotels of Park Lane with Harrods and the embassies of Belgravia with the wealth management firms of Mayfair. Huge chunks of the area are owned by super-rich Russians, Arabs and Asians.
He is not expecting drop-in trade. In fact, visiting the Jet Business is strictly invitation-only. But he believes the highly-visible location and word of mouth recommendations will send the world's ultra-wealthy in his direction. Varsano's job is to persuade them to buy, not a new jet directly from the OEMs, but from the pre-owned market. However, he says all the OEMs are behind his move.
He plans to replicate the concept in other world cities, the likes of New York, Beijing and Dubai.