UK boatbuilding robust despite challenges
New figures released by British Marine highlight that Britain’s boatbuilding revenue increased by 21.3% in 2018 with the boating market now worth £1.4bn annually to the UK economy.
This rise, totalling £777m in turnover, has been attributed to increased exports of inboard motor cruisers and motor yachts (+11.4%) and rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) (+5.5%). More than 65% of new boat production in 2018 went to overseas markets, with combined exports of new and used boats totalling £627m in 2018.
Lesley Robinson, chief executive at British Marine, said, “We’re pleased to see that the UK’s boatbuilding sector enjoyed positive growth last year, despite Brexit and economic uncertainty. We are seeing increased demand across nearly all vessels, from motor yachts to canal boats and dinghies.
“Whilst it’s encouraging to see the UK remain a global hotspot for boat production, with exports accounting for a large portion of this year’s growth, we’re also reminded that the sector continues to face challenges such as lower consumer confidence in the UK. Over the past year we’ve seen local sales remain flat and with the prospect of further Brexit delays dampening domestic spending, the future health of the sector is uncertain.”
The figures show builders of motor yachts sized 12-24m saw a 12.3% expansion in production with two of the UK’s largest yacht manufacturers – Sunseeker International and Princess Yachts – enjoying record sales and forward orders. These two are not the only success stories, with both Pearl Yachts and Fairline Yachts also revealing double digit sales growth.
Output by manufacturers of RIBs also grew 5.5% largely driven by strong demand across superyacht tender and leisure markets. Manufacturers Williams Jet Tenders, Ribeye Boats and Cobra Ribs all reported double digit growth over the past year. Meanwhile, production in the UK’s inland narrowboat market grew 1.2% with total new boat registrations up 0.5% on Canal and River Trust waterways. Sailing dinghies and small sailboats also experienced growth of 2.5%, with exports of £15m in 2018.
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