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Political uncertainty hasn’t held back the UK marine industry, with exports soaring above national average growth

Published on: 11 February 2020

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Tuesday 11 February 2020 – New figures released today by British Marine (the trade association for the leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry) reveal how the marine sector’s export growth has outperformed the national average since the previous year. The sector’s export growth has outpaced the national average, hitting the £1.5bn mark in 2018/19. The Key Performance Indicators for the Leisure, Superyacht & Small Commercial Marine Industry report shows that new and used boat sales now account for 78% of the industry’s exports, while exports to Europe account for 74% of the total and now stand at a value of more than £1bn.

The new data also reveals an optimistic industry outlook across the sector as a whole. In the previous year:

  • The UK’s 5,800 marine businesses directly contributed £1.4bn gross value added (GVA) to the country’s economy, an increase of 17% from 2017/18
  • Total revenue climbed to nearly £4bn, an increase of 10%
  • Boat and equipment manufacturing experienced the highest levels of growth at 15%

Commenting on the new figures, Lesley Robinson (CEO of British Marine) stated: “We are delighted to see the marine industry continuing to prosper – providing a significant number of jobs to the UK economy. In particular, it is encouraging to see the growth of the boat manufacturing sector, which now accounts for one in four jobs in the entire sector.”

While the overall outlook is positive the new data also highlights the challenging environment that some parts of the sector face due to political uncertainty. The boating tourism sector in particular has experienced challenging conditions due to a dip in domestic consumer confidence caused by greater political uncertainty, specifically Brexit. 

Despite these challenging conditions the new figures show how the sector enjoyed employment growth of 7% and now supports 38,700 jobs, almost seven times the national average employment growth in the same period. However, concerns around staffing and a skills shortage continue to persist. British Marine is seeking to address this through its National Agenda strategy, which helps members to develop the skills of their existing workforces and bring in new employees by showcasing all that a career in marine sector has to offer. 

Adding its comments to the report, Sean Roberston, Sales Director for Sunseeker International said: “Sunseeker is committed to invest £60m across 4 years in New Product Development, facilities, people and innovation. Britain has the talent, engineering excellence, creativity and passion to lead our industry across all the sectors we operate in”.

In light of these specific findings, Lesley Robinson added: “Recent years have seen increased domestic uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU, meaning consumer outlook has fluctuated and domestic business sentiment remains flat. Now that we have some political clarity on the year ahead we hope consumer sentiment improves and marine businesses have the greater certainty they need to invest and plan ahead. Overall this new report is very encouraging and is a reminder of the UK’s role as a hub of expertise and employment for the marine industry globally.”

British Marine members can download the full report for free here.