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British Marine reports UK's leisure marine industry grows for fifth consecutive year

by Annabel Wildey 9 Jan 2017 15:30 GMT 9 January 2017
London Boat Show 2017 © onEdition

Six months since the Brexit vote, confidence amongst British Marine members has bounced back

Industry now calling for government support to boost exports

A new report, released today at the London Boat Show, by membership organisation British Marine, finds that the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry is posting revenues not seen since the financial crash.

Key findings include:

  • In 2015/16 revenues grew by 1.6%, to £3.01bn (the last time the industry posted revenues of over £3bn was 2008/9)
  • The industry directly contributes over £1.11bn of Gross Value Added to the UK economy (an increase of 3.7%)
  • Marine businesses now support over 33,000 full-time equivalent employees (up 4.6%)
  • Exports make up 29% of industry revenue, with key export markets including:
    • Eurozone £392m (44.6%)
    • North America £157m (17.8%)
    • Other European Countries (including Russia) £90m (10.2%)
    • China £40m (4.5%)
    • Middle East £30m (3.4%)
  • Sectors that are sailing ahead include:
    • Engines & Equipment Manufacturing: £335 million (+8.8%)
    • Marinas & Moorings: £222 million (+3.6%)
    • Hire, Charter & Passenger Boats: £351 million (+6.8%)
    • Business Support Services: £145 million (+2.7%)

The figures are supported by British Marine's bi-annual Industry Trends survey which gauges business sentiment from the last six months, since the Brexit vote. The survey finds:

  • The Leave vote in June 2016 had an immediate and sharp impact on marine businesses. In July 2016, businesses reported a negative outlook for the coming six months, with a net rating score of -7%. But business confidence has bounced up 17% since then, with a net positive confidence rating of +10% posted at the end of 2016.

  • Boat manufacturers are particularly buoyant post-referendum with a net rating score of +50% (up from 0% in May 2016), increasingly driven by the superyacht sector, worth £605million, as identified in the Superyacht UK annual survey released in September 2016.

  • With the depreciation of the pound there appears to have been a slight increase in inbound and domestic tourism (+2.0% and +1.8%, respectively), which has been echoed in the increasingly positive sentiment of marine tourism-related businesses. 41% of hire, charter, passenger boat and other marine-related tourism businesses indicated that they were positive about the next 6 months when surveyed in November, compared to only 22% when asked immediately following the EU referendum.

  • Hire, Charter & Passenger Boats business confidence up from +4 in July to +28 at the end 2016.

  • Confidence in the Boat Repair & Refit Business; Marinas and Moorings, and Hire, Charter & Passenger Boats sectors is also up.

Analysis: costs rise post-referendum but currency depreciation provides net benefit

With the depreciation of the pound against the euro since the EU referendum, and with the EU the primary supplier of marine raw materials and components for UK boat manufacturers, cost of manufacturing inputs has risen sharply, climbing +1.98% between Q2 and Q3 2016.

However, according to research by British Marine, exporting manufacturers still accrue a net benefit from sterling's depreciation. It has increased the purchasing power among foreign consumers and is driving demand for British products. As a result, confidence is high amongst a significant number of boat builders trading in international markets.

British Marine pushing for an exports boost

British Marine and its members have recently met the Department for International Trade to discuss what support government can give the industry.[1] The message from exporters was that while Europe is and will remain significant, businesses are exporting to many other markets and need government backing to take advantage of opportunities to trade with the likes of China and North America.

Mark Garnier MP and Jesse Norman MP, ministers at the Department for International Trade and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy respectively, will be in attendance at the London Boat Show meeting marine businesses to discuss further trade opportunities and an Industrial Strategy for marine.


Commenting on the state of the industry, Howard Pridding, CEO of British Marine said: "The industry remains robust – revenue is growing and we are taking on more employees. Despite the post-referendum volatility impacting on business and consumer confidence the industry remains bullish and keen to take advantage of the short and medium term opportunities that lie ahead, starting with the 2017 London Boat Show."

Commenting on the need for government support, Pridding continued: "Our members' greatest long term concern is uncertainty and we will continue to work closely with Government to ensure the sector is given as much backing as possible from Government especially as the Brexit negotiations begin. Access to the single market is of course important, but member companies are keen to minimise tariff and non-tariff barriers. Members are also keen to maintain access to skilled workers from across the EU and the government needs to do all it can to make sure that any future immigration policy with the EU supports marine businesses that are ambitious to grow and export."

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