Finland officially entered recession this year, undermining trade, consumer confidence and the willingness to spend on big-ticket items such as yachts.

According to preliminary statistics, the Finnish economy shrank by 0.1 per cent in the first three months of 2013 after contracting by 0.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Jouko Huju at marine industry federation Finnboat told IBI that uncertainty over the development of the European economy is the single biggest issue affecting the Finnish market.

“Consumers are still very careful in their decisions regarding all types of leisure investment,” he says. “Boat, equipment and engine sales are down by around 15 per cent and that trend is expected to continue. In our own planning, we have prepared ourselves for lower sales for the next couple of years. We typically sell boats to around 30 countries and the overall feeling in most of them is the same.”

Expansion mode

Finnboat member companies reported total net sales of $477.6m in 2012 – a 14.9 per cent drop compared to the previous year. Domestic sales of boats, engines, equipment and related services fell by 19.4 per cent to $264.7m, whereas exports dropped by 5.4 per cent to $212.9m.

On a more positive note, some 52 per cent of Finnboat enterprises are expecting an increase in turnover in 2013, and 20 per cent anticipate expanding their workforce. Much of this optimism can be attributed to the association’s unyielding support for the sector. “Finnboat and its member companies have spent an enormous amount of time, resources and funds [about $20m] in the last four years on a research programme on all sectors of the industry to help us identify the competitive edges, develop the products and production technology, understand the changes in consumer behaviour and through all that come up with products that will appeal to a new generation of boaters,” says Huju.

“As a result, Finland and its boat manufacturers are well prepared to gain more market share with new, innovative products that are competitively priced.”

NOTE: This is an excerpt from the country report included in the June-July issue of IBI magazine. IBI Plus subscribers can download the complete report at IBI Plus website.