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Press Release

Robust demand creates good atmosphere

After a difficult 2013 season, when business performance was significantly affected by weather conditions at first, the industry got off to a vigorous start in the 2014 season. The Düsseldorf boat show boot 2014, the most important marketplace for maritime goods and services, was therefore clearly accompanied by a greater buying propensity. When asked about the commercial success of the event, 78% of all exhibitors said they were either satisfied or very satisfied. This was the best outcome in 10 years, clearly underlining the high standard of this event while also showing that the market is gaining in robustness again.

This positive trend continued throughout the 2014 season, even though during the second quarter boat and equipment sales were somewhat lower than anticipated. In all, the industry is expecting the sale of maritime goods and services to total about EUR 1.8 billion (+3%). This figure does not include sales of mega yachts.

During the 2013/2014 fiscal year German boat manufacturers increased their production to approximately 1,700 sailing and motor yachts (+10%) while also gaining market shares in Germany and abroad through innovative products and good value for money. Both new and highly affordable entry-level models have boosted the business in new boats, creating the necessary market stimuli.

This is especially evident in the sailing boat segment. Whereas non-German manufacturers suffered substantial losses on the German sailing boat market during the first half of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013 (import: -57.6% of boats, -8.8% of value), German manufacturers continued to expand their positions on the domestic market.

The same was true for exports where, compared with the same period last year, the German sailing boat industry grew 14.5% in value and 6.3% in the number of items sold. Demand has grown particularly in large sailing and motor yachts above 12 metres, with much greater interest in large standard yachts beyond the 14-metre limit.

This sustained robustness on the German market has been confirmed by retailers. A mid-year economic survey conducted by the association showed that 67.6% of all sailing boat retailers (previous year: 50%) felt that the business situation was just as good or better than the year before. In the motorboat segment the number of positive assessments was even higher, at 71.4% (previous year: 55.3%).

This was partly due to the new threshold for a German boat master’s licence, which is now 15 HP (11 kW). Inflatables and small open sports boats benefit particularly from this new regulation and are experiencing a rise in demand. In total, the sale of outboard engines increased by another 6% in the first half of 2014, and has been continually growing since the introduction of this regulation in autumn 2012. The industry has been supporting the improved entry opportunities through regional boating events where beginners are given free taster rides on boats that do not require boat master’s licences. A water sports discovery website is available for novices (www.entdecke-wassersport.de) with information on all the important aspects of boating and with links to companies offering free taster rides and renting out licence-free boats throughout the season.

Pre-owned boats
The sharp fall in second-hand boat prices over the last few years has been making the new boat business rather difficult. Quite a few customers change their minds when they realise that the difference between the potential price of a pre-owned boat and a new yacht is far higher than expected. On the other hand, the low prices of pre-owned boats are also adding a fresh impetus to this segment. Well equipped and well maintained used boats quickly find new owners. The level of satisfaction in the pre-owned boat market is therefore very high. 67.7% of sailing boat retailers and 76% of motorboat retailers report sales figures which are just as good or better than last year. One particularly positive development is that more and more newcomers are attracted to boating by the good prices of pre-owned boats.

Equipment & accessories
The equipment market is currently benefiting from the trend to keep one’s yacht for a few more years than planned. Once a person has decided to postpone the purchase of a new yacht, they feel they might as well improve its equipment. Moreover, as the average age of boat owners is rising and people are spending more time on their boats, owners are investing above all in equipment that makes life on board safer and more comfortable. Quite often boat owners opt for a complete refit. Additional demand is created by the ongoing boom in the pre-owned boat market. Refitters and equipment suppliers are therefore satisfied. As many as 95.6% of companies believe that the current business situation is just as good or better than the year before.

Service & maintenance
More and more boat owners no longer want to spend their very scarce spare time on repairs. Furthermore, on-board equipment has been getting so complex and complicated that DIY options tend to be rather limited anyway. There is a general feeling that one’s precious boat should be looked after by professionals, so that it is then fully available for the start of the season.

This widespread attitude has boosted the capacity utilisation of service companies and thus the demand for skilled technical staff. 80.8% (previous year: 62.1%) of companies therefore take a positive view of the current business situation.

Chartered boats
A generally robust situation is also reported in the chartered boat segment. While there was a slump in chartered sales on the Baltic, partly due to lower demand during the World Cup, this was balanced out by growth in international business. A good service focus has been paying off in this segment. What customers would like to see for the best weeks of the year is not just a well maintained boat, but, for instance, also perfect information about the charter region and its tourist highlights as well as trouble-free support in that region.

Scuba diving
The development of this industry is hampered by the unstable political situation in the most important scuba-diving destination – Egypt. Egypt has traditionally been seen as the main engine for newcomers to the sport. This is where, year on year, thousands of holidaymakers have gathered their first experiences in scuba diving, with many of them continuing for several years. However, the engine has been spluttering somewhat recently. The number of newcomers has been dropping, and thus also revenues in the scuba-diving industry. The German Scuba Diving Industry Association tiv is expecting a sales slump of about 6%. The association wants to counteract this development by boosting its promotional activities at boot 2015 and also by holding a range of scuba diving events this coming year.

Outlook
In all, the water sports industry is expecting the positive trend on the German market to continue. Companies are optimistic about forthcoming developments. 72.2% (previous year: 51.9%) believe that business developments over the next two or three years will be just as good or better.

The general economic climate continues to be good in Germany, even though the economic development has lost some of its momentum. While there is robust domestic demand within Germany, international business is rather more risk-prone. The economic environment continues to be difficult for export-focused companies, due to the ongoing weakness of the Mediterranean states which are traditionally the most important export markets. Overall, the industry is expecting its sales to grow by approx. 3% next year.

Cologne (Germany), November 2014
Bundesverband Wassersportwirtschaft e.V.
Gunther-Plüschow-Str. 8
50829 Cologne
Contact: Jürgen Tracht
Tel. +49 221 59 57 115
Fax +49 221 59 57 110
mailto: tracht@bvww.org
Web: www.bvww.org
www.entdecke-wassersport.de

The German Water Sports Industry Association (BVWW) is the political mouthpiece of the German water sports sector whose interests it has represented both nationally and internationally for over 50 years. Its members include companies and organisations that operate commercially in this sector. The association is an honorary sponsor of the world’s biggest water sports leisure trade fair, boot Düsseldorf, and works with it to create significant stimuli for the water sports industry.

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