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Green Shoots Appear At Southampton Boat Show

by Amanda Banks,, London

21 September 2009

The PSP Southampton Boat Show, a UK outdoor social event showcasing boating, watersports and lifestyle, ended on September 20, reporting strong attendance and increased confidence. Since opening on September 11, the show attracted 121,671 visitors, 282 more than last year.

Organiser National Boat Shows (NBS) announced its delight with the success of the show, which hosted more than 500 exhibitors and showcased almost 1,000 boats, from 1.6 metre inflatables at GBP389 to 130ft motor yachts costing GBP10.6m. The show offered an important platform for the marine industry to display its quality and diversity, from power and sail boats to dinghies, deck equipment, charter holidays, sailing courses, chandlery and more.

Across the board, show exhibitors experienced good sales throughout the 10 days. While visitors have been willing to spend, the sales process has perhaps taken slightly longer than usual, moving exhibitors to report a feeling of "cautious optimism" within the marine industry.

Paul Strzelecki, NBS Chairman, commented: “I believe this show proves the resilience and innovative nature of the British marine industry. To have such a positive Show in the current economic climate is remarkable and we are delighted with the number of visitors who have come to enjoy it and, importantly, make purchases.”

“We look forward to delivering a similar experience for both exhibitors and visitors at the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show in January 2010.”

The show’s success has been attributed to the excellent features and enormous range of exhibitors who have helped create a rich industry showcase.

Despite the economic crisis many exhibitors reported record sales; marine upholstery and equipment supplier Toomer and Hayter, for example, reported a 50% uplift in year-on-year sales and yacht brokers Boatshed secured sales or offers on more than 60 boats throughout the course of the show, its best ever result at a Southampton show.

Many exhibitors chose the PSP Southampton Boat Show to launch new products, almost 100 of which were unveiled, from new sailing boats such as the Southerly 49 from Northshore Yachts and Beneteau’s First 35 and Oceanis 50, to sailing equipment.

The show also saw a bumper selection of new powerboats debuted. Sunseeker International made four global debuts: the Predator 130, which was the biggest and most expensive boat at the show; the 80 Yacht; the Predator 60; and the Predator 54. Princess Yachts unveiled two new models: the V78 and the 78 Motor Yacht. Sealine revealed the new F-series flagship, the F46, and show visitors caught the first glimpse of the all-new Fairline Squadron 65.

Anecdotal feedback from exhibitors confirms the show concluded on a high note.

Frank Stevens of Crownline said: “We were very apprehensive going into the show, but we have come out of it delighted. We’re pleased with the numbers and also the quality of visitor. We’ve achieved twice as many sales as we did at the 2008 PSP Southampton Boat Show.”

Robert Braithwaite of Sunseeker International said: “We came to the PSP Southampton Boat Show with cautious confidence and leave with that confidence on a high. We’ve had a very successful Show and look forward to taking that high to the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show which looks set to be perfectly positioned to benefit from the recovering market.”

Ian Braham, Head of Marine Finance at Lombard, said, "We are very pleased with the results achieved at the show. There has clearly been an improvement in customer confidence which has resulted in us exceeding last year's value of finance applications by 32%. This is a positive sign for the industry.”

In a statement, British yacht builder Discovery Yachts announced that it had achieved unprecedented sales during the last five weeks selling five of its award-winning Discovery 55 blue-water sailing yacht, completing their order book and build program for 2010, attributing it to the success of the Southampton Show.

Commenting, Discovery Yachts Managing Director Nigel Stuart said: "The sale of our 5th Discovery 55 in as many weeks is testament to the quality and design of these craft, built at our production facility in Southampton. In spite of the current challenging market conditions, this latest achievement continues to prove that the demand for high quality yachts remains as great as ever."

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