Boat­ing in­dus­try weathers a se­ri­ous sales slump

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ISSUES - LEILA SAMODIEN

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.

OUR shop­ping bas­ket costs R306.74 this week, up by R2.07 from R304.67 two weeks ago. Store one has a spe­cial with its lean beef mince at R27.82 per kg, down by R4.58 from R32.40 two weeks ago. The price of Sasko Sam Toastie white loaf jumped by R1.10 from R5.69 two weeks ago to R6.79 this week. Store two has a spe­cial with its 2 litre Clover milk 2% at R15.49, a drop of 46 cents on R15.95 two weeks ago. It also has 750ml sun­flower cook­ing oil at R6.99, down by R1 from R7.99 two weeks ago.

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