The German leisure marine market was more or less stable in 2013, with total sales of marine goods and services down by just 0.5% to ¤1.744bn compared to the previous year. The situation was buoyed by a strong domestic market, as record-low interest rates encouraged many germans to spend, rather than save, on luxury items such as boats and yachts. But with European economic recovery modest at best, exports continued to fall. According to German marine industry federation Bundesverband Wassersportwirtschaft (BVWW), sales of new boats were down by 2.2% to ¤164m last year, resulting in an increasingly challenging situation for German yards. More than 95% of domestic boat production is exported, leaving the market highly susceptible to global volatility. The used boat market, on the other hand, grew by 0.8% to ¤285m as German buyers took advantage of rock-bottom prices on second-hand craft.
“There’s no real change to the situation we had last year,” BVWW managing director Jürgen Tracht told IBI at boot Düsseldorf in January. “The German market is strong and we’re selling more small boats than in the past. But we have some really substantial export markets like France, the Netherlands and Italy and they’re really going down. It’s a big problem.”
Claus-Ehlert Meyer, managing director of German Boat and Shipbuilders’ association DBSV, agrees. “Conditions are unchanged; we are missing the export markets,” he says. “But Germany itself is doing well. our economy is in good condition and the domestic market is strong. People are buying more small boats and the refit sector is booming. The price of a used boat is now so low that many people are keeping
their old models rather than selling them, preferring to invest in their upkeep instead.” Unlike many of its European neighbours,
Germany has a strong and stable economy, and a labour market that continues to gain strength. Inflation is at a three-year low of 1% and, with GDP forecast to rise by 1.8% in 2014 and by 2% in 2015, domestic demand for boats and associated equipment is strong. This strength is best illustrated when comparing recent import and export figures. According to the German Federal Statistics Office, the number of boats imported into Germany in 2013 climbed by 16.9% to 18,090 units, with an 85.4% rise in value to ¤487.4m. Exports, on the other hand, fell by 12.2% to 6,754 units – a drop of 50.2% in value to ¤644.8m.
NOTE: This is an excerpt from the article published in the April/May edition of IBI magazine. IBI Plus subscribers can access and download the full report from the website.