In general, 2014 set positive signals for the boating industry. It was the first year of growth since the boating crisis and global boat sales were considerably higher in 2014 compared to 2013. The situation is overall good in Europe with sales volume being up 25% in 2014. However, the situation varies drastically from country to country. We took a closer look at Germany, France, the UK, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Greece, Croatia, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland and the East Baltic States.
The overall German market for boats, yachts and related industries shows positive signs with a decent growth rate of 3% in total for 2014. In addition, new rules for boating licenses boosted sales of smaller boats as well as sales of outboard engines. As the boat market has recoverd since the crisis in 2008, there has been an increasing demand for boat-related services such as maintenance services. Moreover, signs for charter businesses are positive in Germany. Chartering boats for holidays has been very popular among Germans in recent times.
Source: BVWW and press
The situation in France seems to be paradox. A decline of 8% in sales in 2014 was accompanied by a rising number of new boating licenses (over 94,000 new licenses). An interesting fact is also that the decrease in sales has hit the sailboat industry harder than the motorboat industry, whereas sailboat sales decreased by 12% in 2014. Exports formed the majority of French boat sales in 2014 with more than 70% of boats being sold to foreign countries, out of which 43% are other EU members. On the other hand, the French multihull sail boat industry grew by 4.5% and the motorboat production was increased by 8.8% in 2014.
Source: FIN and press
Consumer confidence is recovering in the UK. Although motorboat building was affected by the recent crisis, the number of newly built boats has increased since 2014. In addition, aftermarket companies and other boat-related services experience an improving situation. It is striking that superyachts as well as the commercial sector still outperform the leisure sector.
Norway had to take a dramatic hit after the crisis with sales being down over 60%. Since 2013, total boat sales have recovered slowly by around 3%. Smaller boats from 20 to 25 ft. are growing at faster rates of up to 7% in Norway.
Finland had to suffer from a decrease of 3.5% in sales in 2013. However, the situation changed in 2014 and the boat market is improving. Most of Finnish boats are being imported.
The Swedish market has shown good signs with decent sales volumes as well as a thriving service and maintenance industry in 2014.
The main drivers for boats sales in Greece are charter services offering boats and yachts for tourists from European countries, in which the economic situation is not as bad as in Greece. Due to the current political and economic developments, it seems that the crisis will have a major negative impact on the European boating market.
A difficult economic situation and uncertainty in the euro zone take their toll on the Dutch boating sector. In 2013, a decrease of 15 to 20% in boat sales left the Dutch boating industry suffering. Since many preowned boats are being offered at attractive prices, the boatbuilding industry in the Netherlands seems to struggle. According to forecasts, boat sales will recover and be quite stable in the future.
In Spain the boat market is dominated by smaller boats up to 8 meters representing 90% of the entire Spanish market. The boat registrations increased by over 13% in 2014 implying that the boat market is recovering.
After years of hard circumstances, the Italians finally seem to rediscover their interest in small leisure vessels. Sales of small leisure vessels boosted domestic boat sales, however, 90% of Italian boats are still being exported. The popularity of Italian boats seems to be unbroken. But, the situation in the Italian domestic market is still troubled and left waiting for true recovery.
The Polish domestic market has started to develop which lead to Poland being currently one of the leading boatbuilding nations in Europe. An increase of 22% is forecasted for 2017.
East Baltic States (Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia)
The East Baltic States have a yet small, but thriving boatbuilding industry, whereas 80% of the manufactured vessels were being exported and only 20% were sold to domestic boat buyers.
Source: POLBOAT, AEB and press
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