Boating industry weathers a serious sales slump
LAST YEAR was a rocky one for the South African boating industry, which suffered a sales slump of up to 50 percent.
But experts expect the industry to pick up significantly this year as consumers grow more confident about the stability of the global economy.
Cape Town Boatbuilding and Technology Initiative (CTBi) CEO Veda Raubenheimer said last year had been a “harsh” one for boating. The industry, she estimated, had dropped by 50 percent as the country slipped in and out of a recession.
One dealer, Boating Dyna- mix, which sells inflatable, powered boats, said it had seen a 60 percent drop in sales.
“We’ve seen a little bit of improvement towards the end of the year,” said owner Ludolph Toerien, “but we think it will take a long time for things to get back to the way they were.”
Raubenheimer said the export market had fared particularly badly.
This made a big difference in sales as a whole, since the bulk of the market was for export – 80 to 85 percent of larger boats, in terms of quantity and the value of individual products, were sold overseas.
Most boats that are built in South Africa and exported are large yachts and catamarans 10m and longer.
The bigger part of yacht and catamaran buyers were middle to upper class.
“The majority of buyers are from the baby boomer era and are now going into retirement,” she said.
“We often hear of people who have been saving for a long time, then decide to sell their large home for a smaller one and use their retirement funds to go sailing.”
Raubenheimer believed the economic climate had made them very cautious of making a huge investment in a boat.
“It’s not that there isn’t money. There is a lot of financing for vessels abroad, but many people have other investments and weren’t sure about the safety of their investments during the recession. As a result, they didn’t buy and decided to wait things out.”
Raubenheimer said that while the local market, where smaller vessels such as ski boats were more popular, had remained reasonably steady compared to the international one, there had been a slight decrease in sales.
However, when it came to luxury yachts and catamarans, the industry had not been affected as badly.
A massive 30m-long, 13m-wide luxury catamaran is being built in Epping by an international boating company, which also has a Cape Town base.
“The luxury market has had a significant reduction in sales, but when compared to other parts of the market, is relatively recession-proof,” said Raubenheimer.
She did, however, believe that despite the industry’s tough year, things would pick up considerably this year.
Most of their exports went to the US, where they had already noticed an improvement in the number of willing buyers.
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