‘Challenging’ was the adjective that seemed to jump most quickly to the lips of interviewees for our annual review of the current state of the UK marine industry. With the domestic economy stagnating, the housing market – traditionally a major driver of boat sales – in a prolonged slump, and the eurozone crisis not looking like it is going to be resolved anytime soon, the UK’s marine industry is battling through something of a perfect storm.
If ‘challenging’ summed up 2012, it is likely to be a fitting adjective for 2013. British Marine Federation’s chief executive Howard Pridding identifies consumer confidence – or lack of – as continuing to be a major issue going forward. “Exports remain crucial,” he told IBI. “The big players (Sunseeker, Princess, Fairline) are looking to the BRIC countries and are making headway there, and we’ve seen some movement at the top end of the market. But it’s tough for everyone. When people are fearful for their jobs they are hardly prioritising investing in boating.”