London Boat Show 2018 signals big growth in the UK boating industry

Published on 01/17/2018

  • London Boat Show 2018 signals big growth in the UK boating industry

Last week London’s ExCel building opened its doors to boating enthusiasts from across the world. The UK boating industry has continued to grow each year since the financial crisis in 2008, with 2017 totalling a whopping 3.1bn GBP. This sustained development has left a positive impact on boat show attendance and led more buying customers to exhibitor’s stands. The team at Premier Ship Models made a visit to Friday’s opening to see the effects.

The UK’s decision to leave Europe following a referendum vote in 2016 has led to big changes in the value of the pound, giving UK yacht companies like Fairline, Sunseeker and Princess the financial edge over European and U.S competitors. This has no doubt contributed to the growing strength of the UK boating industry, with managing director of Fairline Russell Currie noting that “We’ve sold 162 boats in the last two years ... no, 163, we sold one this morning.”

Visiting any boat show in the UK right now will give you an indication of just how diverse the industry is, with the more expensive superyachts not by any means being the sole breadwinner. From sailing accessories, to smaller boats and even fashion the wide reach of boating attracts a diverse and large clientele group with different requirements and budgets. The greater level of appeal and offering has contributed to bigger show attendance and more sales.

Superyacht companies have also adopted a similar approach through opening up their collection to include a range of boats that can be suitable for a variety of different budgets. Sunseeker for example used to aim their offering exclusively at the higher end of the market but in more recent years have introduced newer less expensive designs to much success. Opening up the superyacht market to more buyers has helped the continued growth of the industry as a whole.

It was this same principle that led Premier Ship Models to introduce three ranges offering different levels of quality and price. Our standard, superior and premier ranges give customers the opportunity to own a model ship to their liking regardless of their budget and this has certainly opened up the market for us.

This isn’t to say Sunseeker aren’t still seeking buyers in the higher end of the market. “The world is becoming more and more affluent. There are more ultra-high net-worth individuals than ever before, we see that trend continuing and that is clearly our target market” says Phil Popham, chief executive of Sunseeker International. The effects of economic growth following the financial crash in 2008 has created a larger group of wealthier private individuals who are willing to spend more cash. Sunseeker is now the world’s largest producer of yachts over 85ft, turning out about 30 a year.

Industry strength can therefore be attributed the recent development of bigger and more advanced superyachts. Exhibitions like the London Boat Show help to whet the appetite of private individuals, with people now willing to spend more money than ever before on their newest vessel. “We have made 115 78ft boats, and 80 65ft boats, that gives you an indication of the appetite – they want bigger” (Russell Currie).

Boat shows give companies like Sunseeker, Princess and Fairline the opportunity to “show off” their latest designs and the luxuriousness they offer. The stands themselves at London Boat Show were designed to reemphasise this concept, with Sunseeker taking top prize following their collaboration with interior design house Alexander James Interiors.

Image credit: Sunseeker Group London Instagram

The high attendance at London Boat Show and the key changes in how industry offer is changing are indicative of just how successful 2018 will be for boating in the UK. We’re looking forward to seeing the positive effects of this on our business and will certainly be following up with another blog in September to analyse if and how anything has changed at Southampton Boat Show.

Image credit: Sunseeker Group London Instagram

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Source credits:

We're going to need a bigger boat: UK yacht makers buoyant as buyers cash in on Brexit, The Guardian UK, Rupert Neate

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