Groupe Beneteau revealed yesterday that the value of company-wide boat orders was up more than 23% through the end of 2017 compared to the same period last year, with a 25% increase in sailboat orders and 22% in motorboats.

Speaking at an investors meeting in Paris at the close of business last evening, Beneteau projected revenue gains for its Boat Division of between 5.5% and 7.5% for the 2017-18 fiscal year, outpacing the global recreational boat market which the company estimated was growing at about 3% in revenues and 2% in units. Beneteau’s boat business posted revenues of €1.20bn during its last fiscal year, ending 31 July 2017.

The Group presented its full-year forecasts for 2017-18, as well as progress made with its Transform to Perform strategic plan, which includes extensive investment in accelerated product renewal as well as production capacity.

For the 2017-18 season, the Group’s 10 boat brands are launching a total of 38 new models (vs 29 new models last season) to capture the strong upturn in demand, especially in multihull sailboat, outboard, and larger motorboat segments.

Beneteau described revenue trends in the multihull sailboat market as robust with 8% to 10% growth in mature markets, while monohulls are seeing incremental growth of 0 to 1% driven by charter fleet renewals.   Revenue trends in outboard motorboats were said to be ‘dynamic’ with 5% growth across the globe due to the ongoing shift into larger boats outfitted with more powerful engines.  In the inboard motorboat segment ranging from 30ft-60ft revenues are trending upwards by 2% worldwide and slightly higher in North America, while sales of motorboats between 60ft-120ft are more patchy overall but enjoying revenue growth of 1-2% due to higher values.

The growth trajectory in the Boat Division has seen a doubling of revenues from 2009-16 and is projected to increase more than 50% through 2018. On a regional basis, Bénéteau’s boat business has enjoyed 27% gains in Europe, 19% in North America and 29% in emerging markets during the past three years (2015-17).

Company officers shared several aspects of its Transform to Perform plan which is helping the business profitability respond to the challenges of quick growth and increasing product complexity over a relatively short period of time. For the current year, investments include €20m to complete additional capacity for the multihull and outboard segments, as well as increased US-based production; €4m in product development; a new boat services digital platform; and recruitment efforts aimed at bringing on 450 permanent staff onboard in France and another 100 for international positions.  Two thirds of these are for new positions, while a third will cover planned retirements.

Along with flexible, multi-purpose production at its plants, Beneteau’s Boat Division is moving production closer to local consumption with more European outboard models to be produced in the US and more US models made in Poland.

The company is also investing in its Housing Division which is enjoying equally buoyant growth and accounts for 15% of total company revenues. Investments across the Group will be up more than 20% from the previous year’s figure of €79m, and consolidated revenue across the two divisions is expected to increase 6% to 8% for the current year.

Beneteau did not provide specific figures for estimated income but stated that “the Group’s income from ordinary operations is expected to make strong progress, coming in ahead of schedule with the Transform to Perform 2020 strategic plan.” The company went on to say that income margins were expected to be stable, but had been negatively impacted by an unfavourable exchange rate to the tune of -€10m.

The Beneteau Group will hold its Annual Shareholder Meeting at its headquarters in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, France tomorrow morning, 9 February 2018.

In mid-day trading, Beneteau shares were priced at approximately €19.90, down slightly from a five-year peak of €23.20 reached on 15 January 2018.  Over the past 52 weeks, Beneteau’s share price has gained more than 72%.