Family-run boat dealer celebrates 50 years
Family-run dealership, boats.co.uk, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
The company, with its offices in Essex, Dorset, Spain and Mallorca, handles some of the biggest names in the business including Princess, Williams, Parker Boats and Arvor.
The company was founded by David Barke who began his career in 1969 in South Woodham Ferrers in Essex, selling trailers for speedboats. With fibreglass boats opening up boat ownership to a much wider audience he began selling a variety of small, fast boats including Shetland, Fletcher, Norman, Cleopatra, Mitchell and Colvic.
By 1978 the business had grown significantly and was now trading as David Barke Marine. The company obtained the freehold of a boatyard at Maldon on the River Blackwater, moving again eight years later to Paglesham Boatyard on the River Roach, at which time three of David’s sons joined and the family business took off.
In 1999 David launched Essex Boatyards and in the same year the company won the rights to sell Arvor boats with a dealership for Fairline yachts following in 2004. A year later Essex Boatyards purchased Essex Marina on Wallasea Island and moved its operations from Paglesham.
In 2011 the company was awarded the Essex dealership for Jeanneau sailing yachts and in 2014 started a charter business in Mallorca, offering customers the chance to try out some of the new boats before purchase. The same year, David’s sons acquired the boats.co.uk domain and the company rebranded.
Fairline took its boat sales back in-house in 2015, but Princess was quick to step in to sign boats.co.uk as its East Coast distributor. Since then, the company has continued to grow, opening sales offices in Mallorca, Spain and Poole and signing dealership agreements with Williams, Axopar and Parker Boats in addition to existing ones with Princess and Arvor.
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