What Brexit? Full steam ahead for the UK's £605m superyacht industry

 
Rebecca Smith
British Marine said members' confidence had bounced back after the Brexit vote
British Marine said members' confidence had bounced back after the Brexit vote (Source: Getty)

The UK's superyacht industry is posting revenues "not seen since the financial crash", according to new figures.

While sharp ripples of uncertainty were caused in the wake of the Brexit vote, business confidence soon rebounded. According to a report by British Marine unveiled at the London Boat Show, the UK's leisure marine industry grew for the fifth consecutive year, with 2015/16 revenues up 1.6 per cent to £3.01bn.

The last time the industry posted revenues over £3bn was 2008/9. Marine businesses now support over 33,000 full-time equivalent employees, an increase of 4.6 per cent on last year, while exports made up 29 per cent of industry revenue.

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The study found boat manufacturers were "particularly buoyant", driven by the £605m superyacht sector.

Other sectors that had a particular boost included engines and equipment manufacturing, which was up 8.8 per cent to £335m, marinas and mooring which was up 3.6 per cent to £222m, and hire, charter and passenger boats - up 6.8 per cent to £351m.

Howard Pridding, chief executive of British Marine, said: "The industry remains robust - revenue is growing and we are taking on more employees. Despite the post-referendum volatility impacting on business and consumer confidence, the industry remains bullish and keen to take advantage of the short- and medium-term opportunities that lie ahead."

The strong figures were supported by British Marine's bi-annual Industry Trends survey gauging business sentiment over the last six months since the Brexit vote. In July 2016, firms reported a negative outlook for the coming six months, with a net rating score of -7 per cent, though it has since bounced back - up 17 per cent. For the close of 2016, there was a net positive confidence rating of +10 per cent.

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Boat manufacturers were in particularly buoyant spirits post-referendum with a net rating of +50 per cent, up from 0 per cent in May 2016, driven by the superyacht sector - worth £605m.

Pridding added: "Our members' greatest long-term concern is uncertainty and we will continue to work closely with government to ensure the sector is given as much backing as possible as the Brexit negotiations begin. Access to the single market is of course important, but member companies are keen to minimise tariff and non-tariff barriers."

He said another concern was maintaining access to skilled workers across the EU. "The government needs to do all it can to make sure that any future immigration policy with the EU supports marine businesses that are ambitious to grow and export," Pridding said.

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