Report highlights strength of boatbuilding sector

Justin Haines, director of Haines Marine

Justin Haines, director of Haines Marine - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The experience of Norfolk's boatbuilders largely supports new national research reporting an increase in the production of leisure craft last year.

However, 2015 has so far brought a more mixed picture for the county's leading players with the continuing weakness of the euro proving a headwind to continental exports.

Industry body British Marine reported a 4.3pc increase in the production of UK leisure craft last year with manufacturers building more than 10,000 boats. And the motorboat sector, important to Norfolk, saw impressive growth of 10pc in the production of craft above 24 metres.

British Marine spokesman Sarah Dhanda said: 'These figures showcase the strength of Britain's marine industry in a climate where UK manufacturing is under pressure to compete in international markets.'

Mark Garner, managing director of Brundall-based premium brand Broom Boats, said a good 2014 had turned into a buoyant 2015 for them as they approached next month's important Southampton boat show.

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He said: 'We are having to catch up on production having sold all our new boats and demonstrators. We will have two stands for the first time at Southampton and will be taking three new boats, a Broom 395, a 370 and a 35 coupe.'

He said they were scaling up production and would be adding a fifth build crew later this year and a sixth in the spring.

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He acknowledged the euro swing was making the European market difficult but said the UK market was strong.

Justin Haines, a director of Haines Marine, of Catfield, said their 2014 success was also being continued with summer production 'busier than it has been for five years'.

Confounding the hurdle of the weak euro, they had sold five motor boats to Europe and were on course to beat last year's boat sales. 'Inquiries for our high value boats are considerably up,' he said.

Windboat Hardy, which builds luxury yachts in Wroxham and motor boats in North Walsham, is also enjoying a strong 2015 with sales manager Robin Campbell reporting a doubling of sales revenue.

However, David Tydeman, CEO of luxury yacht builder Oyster, which has a production centre at Wroxham, said 2015 had seen a slight slowdown, citing the euro and pre-election lull as factors.

He said: 'It has been a good production year - we handed over 11 boats in April and May - but that is the result of orders placed in 2013 and 2014. So far this year we have contracted £24m in orders and that is slightly lower than last year.'

Wroxham Marine director Pete Applegate, which builds Sheerline motor cruisers at Thorpe, also said 2015 had been 'quite flat' but they were hoping for a change of fortunes with their new model, the 37ft Sheerline 1090, set for launch at the London boat show in January.

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