October | November 2019

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Contents OctNov 2019


>> The last three years have proven how resilient today’s consumer can be

A hard or soft landing? That seems to be the overriding question for those in the industry with one eye on the macro economics. Some indicators suggest we’re due a recession, and that consumer confidence, so vital to our business, is ebbing away, deflating with a myriad of pin pricks from Brexit, trade wars, Donald Trump… It’s easy to give in to the gloom, to fear the hangover as the party comes to an end.

However, having just finished chairing the judging committee for the 2019 Boat Builder Awards and whittling down close to a hundred nomination entries (25% up on the number last year), I’m encouraged to feel a tad more optimistic. Innovation is rife, a fact that was abundantly clear given the quality of a lion’s share of the nominations, which not only indicates an industry that’s got its priorities right, but one that’s looking to the future. From this angle the inevitability of a recession doesn’t look so daunting.

”Could we be on the cusp of a technological revolution that brings new types of boating to the next generation?”

Writing this we’re just weeks away from METSTRADE, the industry’s showcase event where they’ll be a glut of new, innovative product on display. The organisers tell me there’s been a huge increase in new companies and start-ups attending that have ‘sustainability’ at the core of their product offering as well as a “remarkable” increase in new entries for companies providing digital innovations such as monitoring systems, for marinas, charter fleets, and yachts as a whole.

Fifty years ago, the industry was transformed by advances in GRP and production manufacturing that enabled boating to be cost-effectively brought to the masses. Could we be on the cusp of a technological revolution that brings new types of boating to the next generation? Our feature on Connectivity and the Internet of Things on p108, gives a forensic take on the latest developments and trends in marine electronics, but also offers an inspiring glimpse of what the future could hold. Such emerging trends should give industry confidence, while the last three years have proven just how resilient today’s consumer can be. If we can inspire them, then the industry’s future looks bright even if the historic cycle may suggest otherwise.

Ed Slack | IBI Editor

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