Fantastic Sydney boat show signals good times ahead for boating industry

One swallow does not a summer make. But when you see a flock of them, you can be pretty sure winter's over. Based on this analogy, the recession in the boating industry has finished and the buyers are back in force.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke to all the “top end” yacht and multihull exhibitors at the Sydney International Boat Show, along with a number of exhibitors in the main hall, and the response was unanimous – business is great and the show produced record sales!

Mark Elkington, the managing director of Multihull Solutions said this was the biggest show he's attended in terms of “real buyers”. Bob Mulkearns, director of North South Yachting (the importers of X-Yachts and Bavaria) described it as a “great show”. “It's been a long, dry winter but we're seeing really good signs now,” he said. Lee Condell of Jeanneau called it a “fantastic show that was way better than we expected.” He said there were serious buyers visiting the stand.

However, it appears the recovery hasn't happened overnight, but has been building for some time. According to Mark Leach, national sales and marketing manager for Raymarine, his company has had three very good months which included the best Melbourne show in 12 years. While Raymarine doesn't sell directly to the public at the shows, they judge their success by the number of serious enquiries they get and also by the response from their dealers, which has been excellent according to Mark.

There were reports that imported boats are now selling at well below previous prices because manufacturers have cut their margins and freight companies have cut their rates. With interest rates also at their lowest for many years, the new boat sellers are smiling for the first time in several years.

– Roger McMillan

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