The UK leisure marine industry achieved its sixth consecutive year of growth in 2017, with total revenues climbing by 3.4% to £3.12bn – their highest level since the 2007/08 financial crisis. The latest industry figures, published today by British Marine, coincide with the launch of the newly revamped London Boat Show, which runs from January 10-14 at the ExCel exhibition centre in London's Docklands.
According to British Marine, the sector directly contributed over £1.3bn to the UK economy between March 2016 and April 2017, while supporting over 33,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the manufacturing and service industries. And while UK productivity remains sluggish compared to its G20 rivals, the marine sector continues to perform above-average in comparison with other UK industries, with an estimated Gross Valued Added output per worker of over £39,000.
“These impressive figures demonstrate how the industry has successfully cashed in on the pound’s devaluation since the Brexit referendum in 2016,” says British Marine CEO Howard Pridding. “In 2017 UK marine industry exports grew by 4.7% to £924m, with the weak pound making British-made boats and products more competitive abroad.”
Business confidence in the industry has also continued to increase over the last six months, with a net balance of 41% of British Marine members positive about the future.
The UK’s boating tourism sector also appears to have been a key beneficiary of Brexit, with over 60% of marine tourism operators reporting increased sales over the summer. Marinas and boatyards were the second most positive sector, with a net balance of 47% of companies reporting revenue growth.
British Marine said a rise in ‘staycations’ helped explain why the two sectors had fared particularly well over the summer. Since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, the pound has fallen 10% against the dollar and 20% against the euro, making it more expensive for UK-based holidaymakers to take foreign holidays.
“As the pound has dipped, many Brits have rekindled their love for barges, yachting, watersports holidays and canal cruises in and around the UK,” Pridding says. “Confidence in the sector is at its highest since the credit crunch and we expect to see further growth into 2018. However, we are also clear on the potential challenges we are facing as an industry due to Brexit, including its potential impact on the labour supply chain and rising costs related to overseas procurement. British boating is in good health, but a bad deal with the EU risks capsizing our success.”
The data comes from an annual survey conducted by British Marine, the membership organisation for the UK’s marine industry.