UK Leisure Marine Industry Prospers in 2015

At the start of 2015, there was a noticable positive atmosphere at CWM FX London Boat Show as the UK leisure marine industry looks forward to the year ahead. As the months have gone on, the growth within the indusrty looks set to continue.
Ben Caddick of Val Wyatt Marine said “everyone’s positive, there's a real positive vibe going on at London Boat Show at the moment and people are selling boats and there’s good interest.”
Watch the video below to see what a variety industry experts predicted for the marine industry in 2015 whilst at the CWM FX London Boat Show.
The general feeling of positivity has been supported by British Marine Federation’s (BMF) recent figures showing significant industry growth despite challenges. Over the last three years the marine industry has reported positive growth and the new statistics state that in 2013/14 the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry generated a total revenue of £2.9bn, showing a 1% increase on 2012/13.
Richard Hewett from Clipper Marine told us: “we’ve had a very good year, we’ve had a record 8 months. Business is up in both new boats, brokerage boats has doubled this year, service and spare parts are up and it feels much better.” 
As we found speaking to industry experts at the London Boat Show, 90% of surveyed BMF members in 2014 said they were feeling positive about future prospects.
Keith Saynor from Northern Powerboats said: “I think the industry is starting to come round and we’ll start getting busier and busier this year, and then it will go forward.” 
The main obstacle currently facing the industry is a lack of prosperity in the Eurozone economy, causing a disappointing 8.7% decrease in exports over the last year. However, international trade is still creating 32% of the marine sector’s total revenue, suggesting improvements to the Eurozone economy would have a significant boost to the entire industry in the UK. This situation has not been helped by the UK coalition government’s decision to withdraw ‘enhanced funding’ to the BMF, which had been promised earlier in the year. This extra funding would have assisted the BMF to support smaller marine businesses to begin exporting and help bigger businesses break new markets. 
Despite these drawbacks, employment within the industry has become a real success story. Industry employment grew 2.7% in 2014 with 31,500 full-time jobs now supported by the marine industry. The industry has also been awarded ‘Trailblazer’ status for its support of apprenticeships, most notably in the boat building trade.  
A general theme that occurred when speaking to experts at the boat show was that they believe that more and more people will be looking online to buy boats and accessories.
Thomas Wills from Sunseeker Torquay said: “More and more, people are finding what they want on the websites, I think the mobile interface is very important. I do think that once people have found a boat on a mobile device, they want to look at it on a proper computer as I would call it.” 
Since London Boat show, more postive statistics have proven the industry is moving in the right direction. The latest survey from the British Marine Federation reports a steady overall increase in the amount of people participating boating activities and also the amount of people converting from ‘casual boaters’ to ‘boating enthusiasts’. However, the most notable results from the survey is a spike in participation from two key demographics: women and people over 55 years old.
Last year, 3.5m UK adults participated in one or more of 12 boating activities. However, the amount of women getting involved in boat related activities has risen to its highest level since 2002, when BMF began its nationwide surveys. Now 6.2% of the UK’s female population are involved in boating. Although the results of the survey are very encouraging that more women are getting into boating, just 1% of the UK’s female population describe themselves as ‘boating enthusiasts’ (meaning they go boating more than six times per year). This is compared to the 7.1% of the UK’s male population involved in boating, of which 2% can be described as ‘boating enthusiasts’. 
The age group showing the most new interest in boating is the over 55's. Since 2011, the number of people over the age of 55 involved in boating in the UK has risen gradually and is now at its highest point since the BMF began their surveys in 2002, showing a 66% increase. The 16-34 and 35-54 age groups are both also showing higher participation rates over the last few years, suggesting boating is become more popular nationwide. 
We will be covering all the biggest boat shows in 2015 reporting on how the UK leisure marine industry continues to grow throughout the year.

photo credit: Boat Show 6 via photopin (license), wikipedia and

Article by Jack Bartrop