With 95% of boat production headed for the export market, Italy’s shipyards have been busy reinventing themselves. Most are courting the Americas and Asia for growth, and looking at non-Italian yards as their newest competitors

Italy’s marine industry last year began a slow return to growth. UCINA, the country’s marine trade association, had forecasted much higher growth earlier in 2014, after a robust first quarter.

But the second half of the year produced lacklustre boat sales inside Italy, forcing most shipyards to once again rely almost entirely on the export market.

The long-hoped-for recovery never materialised. Continuing worries about Italy’s economic health kept most potential boat buyers away. The EU had originally forecasted 2014 to be a year of modest growth for Italy. But its GDP shrank by 0.5% for the year. UCINA reported that Italy’s leisure marine sector had 1% growth for the year. To give some sense of scale, Italy’s marine sector recorded turnover of €6.2bn in 2007. Last year, it was €2.43bn.

Nobody expects Italy’s marine industry to come roaring back this year, but UCINA members are optimistic that growth could hover between 2.5% and 3.5%. But the numbers are based on Italy’s GDP growth, forecasted to be only about 0.6%.

Some economists say that this number could easily turn negative with any economic turbulence.

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