Superyacht industry hails its highest sales figures since 2008-2009 crash


Britain's superyacht industry has posted its highest sales figures since the financial crisis, and industry experts say momentum has not been torpedoed by Brexit jitters.

Industry revenues rose 1.6% to £3.01 billion in the year to April 2016 which is the first time that sales figures breached £3 billion since the economic crash of 2008-2009, British Marine said. 

That was driven by an 8.8% rise in engines and equipment manufacturing revenues to £335 million, and a 6.8% jump in hire, passenger and charter boats to £351 million.

Meanwhile, marinas and moorings revenues increased by 3.6% to £222 million, while business support services - which include financial services, design, engineering, marketing and IT - rose 2.7% to £145 million.

British Marine chief executive Howard Pridding said: "The industry remains robust - revenue is growing and we are taking on more employees.

"Despite the post-referendum volatility impacting on business and consumer confidence, the industry remains bullish and keen to take advantage of the short and medium-term opportunities that lie ahead."

The industry came into the spotlight last year after MPs raised the prospect of seizing the multimillion-pound superyacht owned by former BHS owner Sir Philip Green to plug the £571 million hole in the retailer's pension fund.  

The tycoon came under fire for cruising the summer away in the Mediterranean on his yacht Lionheart - reportedly worth £100 million - while pensioners were left facing an uncertain future.

Despite negative headlines around the BHS row, British Marine's industry trends survey shows that business confidence has jumped by 17% from minus 7% in July 2016 to a net confidence scores of 10% by year-end.

The rise in both domestic and inbound tourism - up 1.8% and 2%, respectively - has driven positive sentiment among hire, passenger and charter boats businesses to 41% from 22% immediately after the Brexit vote.

Meanwhile, the strength of the UK's £605 million superyacht industry raised confidence scores among boat manufacturers to 50%, compared with 0% in May 2016.

That is despite manufacturers being hit with a near 2% rise in raw materials and components cost between the second and third quarter due to the pound's collapse.

But the sterling exchange rate - which has fallen 18% against the US dollar and 11% against the euro since the EU referendum - has also boosted the purchasing power for foreign consumers and is subsequently driving demand for UK superyachts and related products, British Marine said.

"As a result, confidence is high amongst a significant number of boat builders trading in international markets," the report explained.

British Marine is still pushing for Government support, and said its members recently met with the Department for International Trade and are planning to further establish industrial strategies and trade opportunities after Brexit.

Mr Pridding said: "Our members' greatest long-term concern is uncertainty and we will continue to work closely with Government to ensure the sector is given as much backing as possible as the Brexit negotiations begin.

"Access to the single market is, of course, important but member companies are keen to minimise tariff and non-tariff barriers.

"Members are also keen to maintain access to skilled workers from across the EU and the Government needs to do all it can to make sure that any future immigration policy with the EU supports marine businesses that are ambitious to grow and export."