A light breeze of optimism is blowing over the French nautical market. After a number of bad seasons, the boating professionals want to believe they can feel it. But they remain cautious all the same.

“The 2014/15 season is changing the trend,” Yves Lyon-Caen confirms. Figures have stopped falling and for the first time in four years the president of the Fédération des Industries Nautique (FIN) detects greater stability – even a rise – in the number of sales of new boats, with the latest figures reporting registrations up 1%.

The trend is confirmed by the satisfactory results of the autumn boat shows. It has been a difficult period, with an overall drop of 30% in registrations of new boats between 2011 and 2014. In 2014/15, the market for boats of under 30ft was relatively good and for 40ft-45ft-plus on the way up. Only the market for intermediate sizes was still sluggish.

The second-hand market in France – which represents four out of five boat sales – was firm, up 5% in volume, involving 65,000 boats in 2014/15, against 62,000 in 2013/14.

These two factors have comforted the equipment sector, with some players seeing strong activity in the last quarter of 2015.

For the first time in years, favourable economic factors have converged. Demand from OEMs for new equipment is growing as sales of new boats begin to take off, whilst the active brokerage market is leading to an increase in repair and refit requirements, financed by owners either on a regular basis or because this has been delayed in the past.

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