Nov 30, 2008, 11:07 AM
From David Barrow, Barrow International
Observations from METS 2008
Chairman, British Marine Federations International Committee
The Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS), the premier European exhibition of equipment, materials, systems and services for the international leisure craft trade and industry, concluded last month in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was certainly noticed that there was more activity from Adriatic, Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, Turkey, and some activity from the Far East. The quality of attendee was good and there are certain trends becoming apparent:
* The boat building business in the smaller end of the market below 50, maybe even up to 60 feet, is in general in crisis. More of that below.
* There is a headlong dash by many equipment suppliers towards the aftermarket as it is believed that existing boat owners will be looking to keep boating. However they will also be looking to reduce costs wherever possible and product that can be pitched in that area will see good opportunities.
* Existing distributors that were, during the boom times, busy supplying the OEM market have realised that they will have a substantial reduction in sales in 09 and they were looking to get more product to try and stem the sales losses they will see in 09.
* The professional sector of fitters, engineers, mechanics etc. were also at the show in force looking for other product to boost sales and reduce costs for their customers.
* The Super Yacht sector is still busy with 2-3 years of orders, existing boats in build appear safe to date. There is a downturn in new enquiries which is to be expected and the feeling is that older owners who have the money in the bank will keep happily spending it before their families inherit!
As anticipated, there was a much lower attendance from the boat builders buyers this year and lots of stories circulating about the damage done to that market with at least 6 major yards in Europe closed for extended periods, in both the power and sail sector. Other major yards seem to openly accept that they do not know how the market will develop and there are hundreds, if not thousands of boats built and not sold throughout Europe. Many of these boats have hull and infrastructure completed but the builders have not ordered the deck hardware, winches, rigs and other finishing items as yet, They will only do so based on sales completed. This is going to be hugely damaging to OEM suppliers with previously large market shares that will see OEM sales reduce by between 30-80%.
I will be attending Paris, London and Dusseldorf shows and after this period we will know more about the extent of the OEM’s dilemma, plus have a better idea on how aftermarket and retail sectors will be affected. This does not mean the OEM market should be forgotten as there will still be a good volume of boats built next year. OEM buyers focus will be on extracting cost from production plus new innovations that can show good value with a marketing edge.