20 October 2015, Written by Nick Nichols


WHEN Ferrari announced last month that sales of its luxury marque in Australia were breaking records, it left no doubt that the top end of town is making some serious coin.

Now, one of Australia's largest international marine logistics companies has lent weight to the rising tide of domestic affluence by revealing that it is moving more luxury boats than it did prior to the GFC.

Jason Roberts, co-owner and director of Brisbane-based Aurora Global Logistics, says business has double over the past five years.

"The lower dollar has definitely influenced exports, but it's not sole reason for this growth because from an import side people are getting into more luxury goods at the moment," he says.

"Business is booming. It has doubled since the low of the market five years ago."

Aurora's growth is aligned with the resurgence of Australian luxury boat manufacturing, including Gold Coast-based headliners Riviera and Maritimo.

However, while both Riviera and Maritimo are pushing hard into export markets, both have indicated that overall sales are still to match the pre-GFC highs achieved in 2007-08.

Roberts says yacht transport now accounts for 50 per cent of Aurora's revenue, up 20 per cent in the past year, and that some of this volume is being driven by imports of second-hand boats, particularly out of Europe.

"Consumer sentiment seems to have bounced back and people are buying boats," he says.

"We are experiencing a definite rise in demand for our services, particularly exports to the US and Europe. The inbound traffic too is also at a six-month peak."

Roberts says business has also been buoyed by Aurora's appointment four years ago as Australian agents for UK-based boat transport giant Peters & May, as well as a surge in demand for superyacht and racing yacht transport.

In the lead-up to the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Aurora is preparing to handle an armada of multimillion-dollar vessels, including supermaxi Comanche, which is owned by Texan billionaire Jim Clark and his Aussie wife Kristy Hinze-Clark.

The company is also transporting Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin and Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI.

Roberts says he sees no immediate let-up in the strength of luxury boat logistics.

"Part of it is because we've expanded our activities pretty aggressively," he says.

"We certainly hold our own against the international providers and we are noticing a significant increase in activity.

"We are also having a lot of success from marketing via social media, but most of our business still comes through word of mouth and attending international boat shows.

"Yacht owners are very particular. You can imagine if they're shipping multi-million dollar vessels.

"Even though it's a great big world out there, it's a relatively small yacht racing community and word soon spreads about who's doing a good job."


Author: Nick Nichols





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