London Boat Show 2018: How boat builders are adapting to changing markets – survey

London Boat Show. Photo: onEdition

London Boat Show. Photo: onEdition - Credit: onEdition

With the London Boat Show just four weeks away, a survey reveals a resilient boat building sector ready to tap into new markets.

The boating industry is adapting to fast-changing population demographics and a new political landscape, according to latest figures released in the autumn.

Membership organisation British Marine reveals a UK boat manufacturing sector worth £3.01bn within the leisure marine industry.

The British Marine September survey is the first research to show detailed growth of its boat building members across domestic and overseas markets, and showing the health of the sector.

Growth is being led by small-and medium-sized boat builders, with the lion’s share of production absorbed by the mid-sized powerboat market (12-24 metres), sailing dinghies and rigid inflatables, where output has recently returned to 800 units after a period of decline.


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The survey also shows:

• The UK’s boatbuilding sector grew in 2016, with unit production climbing by +1.5% to 9,907 units.

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• Revenue increased by 1.6%, generating £859m in turnover last year, showing that boat production accounts for more than one-third of the marine industry’s total revenue.

• £724m or 84% was derived from exports, an increase of 35%.

• The UK continues to lead in the global dinghy sailboat market, accounting for 78% of total units produced. Production numbers grew 1.2% in 2016 to 7,735.

• The rigid inflatable boat market has grown by 12.3%, with 820 units produced last year.

• Mid-sized motor yacht production has increased 2.7%, with 380 units produced last year.

British Marine chief executive Howard Pridding said: “Boat building in the UK has changed dramatically over the last decade, with demographic and social change re-shaping manufacturers’ customer base and their access and approach to spending and boat ownership.

“As a result, the market for boat builders in traditional boat segments has narrowed for boat builders across the world.

“UK boat builders have adapted. Our members continue to find opportunities and commercial niches to exploit in the Eurozone and increasingly in established and emerging markets outside of Europe.”

While sailing yacht ownership has declined in popularity, participation in the sport

remains steady, with charter holidays and shared ownership offering the flexibility of use and experience not afforded by conventional ownership. The survey says the current trend in domestic yacht manufacturing is therefore driven by changing customer behaviours in an ageing market.

Book tickets online for the London Boats Show 2018.

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