Despite a difficult home market, the French nautical industry is harbouring hopes of recovery on the back of a weakening euro and rising exports

There are a small number of significant reasons why the clouds could well be lifting on the French marine market. The depreciation of the euro against the dollar should boost French exports – particularly to the US, which is proving the real engine in the global market recovery.

The fall in the price of a barrel of Brent crude oil (-60% since June 2014) could also provide a much needed shot in the arm for the market, both for OEMs and end users alike, with lower prices at the pump.

If these two factors become the norm rather than a temporary blip, then French companies should become more competitive.

With credit terms at historical lows and the recent decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) to embark on large scale quantitative easing to revitalise the eurozone economy and to head off threats of deflation, consumers should have increased purchasing power, promising a boost in orders and consumption – or so the theory goes.

Despite these national and international economic factors, the French nautical sector remains active. According to figures from the French Federation of Nautical Industries (FIN) for the period September 2012 to August 2013, France has 9 million occasional boaters and 4 million regulars, with 512,370 boats in service. The different coasts have over 370 marinas with 250,000 berths, and 38 dry docks with 11,250 berths. Some 86,310 new leisure sailing permits were delivered during the period.

The French nautical industry comprises 5,090 firms employing 40,326 and generates a total turnover of +4.42bn, down 3% against the 2012/13 season. Jobs are down 1.8%.

The industrial segment accounted for 36% of this turnover at +1,580.5m (down 4.3% vs 2011/12). This covers boatbuilders and importers with turnover of +1,017m (-7.4%), and equipment at +563m (+1.8%).

September’s Cannes boat show. the show has gained in size and reputation in recent years

September’s Cannes boat show. the show has gained in size and reputation in recent years

The service segment represents 52% of turnover at +2,300m (+4%), covering sales and maintenance at +1,654.2m (-1.9%), services at +404.4m (+0.6%) and the rental market at +241m (-13.3%).

The marina and associated services segment represents 10% of the industry’s turnover at +445.6m (+1.9%).

Lastly, windsurfing, waterskiing, kayaking and other outdoor nautical pursuits represent 2% of turnover at less than +100m (-6.6%).

Note: This is an excerpt of the latest market overview on France published in IBI magazine February/March 2015 edition. IBI Plus subscribers can download the full report from IBI Plus website.