According to the latest figures from FIN for 2014/15 (September 14-August 15), the marine sector as a whole has grown 2.7%. Overall turnover in the sector (boatbuilding, equipment, services, etc) totals $4.41bn, against $4.29bn the previous calendar year.

France boat shows

The Cannes Yachting Festival (top) and Paris Nautic account for 60% of domestic industry turnover

Is a recovery of the French marine sector just around the corner? It certainly looks that way, despite the bleak economic forecast of modest growth of just over 1% in 2017, below that of its neighbours.

France has grown accustomed to these economic doldrums – since 2015, its economy has grown at an annual half point below the eurozone’s as a whole, itself at the bottom of the ranks in world growth.

Just how to rectify this worrying trend has become a battleground for candidates in the run-up to the presidential election in April. Given such an unfavourable domestic climate, it might be surprising to witness growing confidence within the French nautical sector, reflecting in part the fact that exports have become increasingly important to the plethora of French boatbuilders.

“We are part of a European trend, cautious but optimistic about 2017,” Yves Lyon-Caen, president of the Fédération des Industries Nautiques (FIN) and president of the Supervisory Board of the Beneteau Group, told IBI at the Paris Boat Show in December.

He adds: “2017 is critical, after three consecutive years of growth in the global market. Europe is going in the right direction, as is the US market.”

Will this positive trend continue or will it stall? European fundamentals appear robust, but the American ones are less easy to predict since Donald Trump entered the White House, whilst the race for the French presidency is also causing new uncertainty at home.

“The Miami Boat Show will be indicative,” says Lyon-Caen. “If the boat show is successful, it will confirm that growth is being maintained and that we have a robust base, as we had between 1998 and 2008.”

Market data

According to the latest figures from FIN for 2014/15 (September 14-August 15), the marine sector as a whole has grown 2.7%. Overall turnover in the sector (boatbuilding, equipment, services, etc) totals $4.41bn, against $4.29bn the previous calendar year. “This shows that France is number two or three in Europe,” claims the FIN president.

Of this $4.41bn, manufacturing constitutes $1.48bn (+4.9 %), with boat construction and imports comprising $955.4m (+8.4 %), and equipment (sail lofts, clothing, electronics, etc.) making up $527m (-0.9 %). The lion’s share of the $4.41bn comes from services, up slightly by 0.4%, to $2.30bn.

Of these services, business and maintenance (sales, repairs, chandleries, etc.) registered a turnover of $1.61bn (-0.1%); related business sales (designers, brokers, skippers and experts) were $419m (+0.9%) and rentals constituted $268m (+2.7%). Board sports and other outdoor activity sales were up +8.8% to $106m. Marinas and associated services generated $516m (+5.7%).

Note: This is an excerpt of the country report published in IBI magazine February/March issue. IBI Plus subscribers can download the document in full.