Bainbridge plays its part

Bainbridge Marine's success was recognised by local MPs Bainbridge Marine's success was recognised by local MPs
Industry Database

VISIT: One of the UK’s largest sailcloth manufacturers, Bainbridge Marine, was visited by local MPs today, who highlighted the importance of the marine industry and EU trade to the region and local jobs, Rachael Doyle found out.

Government Liberal Democrat Minister Stephen Williams MP, local MP Mike Thornton and Hampshire’s MEP Catherine Bearder toured the company’s UK headquarters in Eastleigh Borough to see the success the company is experiencing and its role played in EU trade, to which the UK sector contributes £515m every year.

Managing director, Jan O’Connor, who bought the company in November 2013, told Boating Business: “It’s important that we’re recognised as a key industry to the local economy. Like most companies, Bainbridge has had a tough five years but we’ve weathered the storm and are growing strongly.”

The group turned over £20m in 2013, with sailcloth/sailmaking hardware and marine equipment distribution being the main focus on the marine side of things (47% and 43%), while protective materials and non-marine account for just 10% of the business.

There are around 4,200 marine businesses operating in the UK and within the UK arena, these account for around £466m of the total equipment market. This splits to £210m for distribution and £256m for manufacturing.

“Some pockets are doing very well and better than others, despite the economic downturn,” added Gordon Coventry, head of sales and marketing.

In particular, the UK’s superyacht market, which is big in Europe, has seen an increase of 7.7%, while exports are also soaring, especially in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

“I’m extremely positive about the future – we’re doing so well already. While there’s nothing earth-shattering happening this year, we do have plans to invest a lot of money in R&D over the next five years,” Mr O’Connor told BB.

For 2015, the company anticipates growth mainly in the sailing sector, where the domestic UK market remains the biggest receiver, and when questioned about the importance of the UK being in the European Union, Mr O’Connor highlighted the helping hand it lends, but ensured Bainbridge will continue to “respond to whatever the market conditions are”, despite any political changes that might occur.

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