by Des Ryan
France's Beneteau Group, the world's best known manufacturer of production boats, has long been a benchmark for how the boating industry is going. They are reporting, for the 2012/13 full year, that the business is developing 'in line with forecasts', but it is, as often is the case, the devil in the detail which is the most interesting.
Beneteaus, every one...
Their sales outside of Europe have increased by a whopping 28%, and they note that this is because of the 'global deployment of the range and the acceleration on power yachts.'
You don't have to be too clever to work out that most of that increase is in Asia, not the Americas.
They continue, 'thanks to 28% growth outside of Europe, the Group is more than offsetting the effects of a difficult economic environment in Europe.
'Full-year revenues for the Boat branch came to €624.1 million in 2012-13, including €184 million for the fourth quarter, up 2.3% on the previous year.
'The acceleration of the Group's development in markets outside of Europe and on large power yachts, in line with the strategy launched in 2010, is making it possible as of 2013 to offset the European boat market’s difficulties linked to the general economic climate. In this way, for the second year running, the Group's sales outside of Europe show a significant increase, climbing 28% compared with the previous year to reach €232 million for FY 2012-13.'
As far as North America is concerned, the world's largest market, they say 'the Group has continued to make progress on the motorboat market, while further strengthening its leading position on sailboats. Over the year, its business increased by 47% compared with 2011-12.' But of course, that was from a very low base.
Confirming the rise of power boating market they report, 'On the new markets in Asia and South America, which are confirming their status as structurally growing regions for pleasure cruising, business is up 26%.'
Finally they report clearly that Europe has been doing very poorly, saying, 'Faced with a significant contraction and major regional differences, the Group has successfully consolidated its market shares, limiting the downturn in its business.'
No surprises there, but it continues to confirm that where goes Beneteau, so goes the entire boating market.