Innovation key to propel boat show sales
Written on the 20 May 2009
by Jason Oxenbridge
THE new general manager of the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS) is confident that the marine sector’s voluminous innovation sector can offset a 15 per cent decrease in exhibitor numbers this year.
Mark Jensen concedes challenges ahead as the marine industry is swept up in the deluge of the global economic tsunami. Showcase product numbers at this year’s event have declined from 450 to 350 as manufacturers face financial hardships propelled by weak domestic sales and a downturn in exports.
But Jensen is confident that 50,000 visitors will pour through event – the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere — from May 21-24. Total sales of around $250 million are expected — $20 million down on last year.
Luxury vessels, marine accessories and engines will form part of a combined display of more than 8400sqm.
“Boat shows around the world are experiencing the same sort of decrease in numbers,” says Jensen, who replaced the outgoing Barry Jenkins as GM this year.
“It’s a shame about the economic climate, but there will be a lot of positives to come out of this show, including 70 first-time exhibitors and 30 international world-first launches. It gives us even more focus on making sure that we can provide the best possible market place for the Australian marine industry.
“Our emphasis has been that we can still provide the best possible venue, with improved facilities and services. If we can bring as many buyers as we can to the show then the exhibitors are going to get the results. We are pulling out all stops to get as many consumers here as possible, and, with the help of Barry Jenkins, more international buyers.”
As the hull of international marine innovation prepares to showcase its collective zeal, Jensen is cool under pressure to produce results at his first event as GM. While his sights are trained on the task at hand, there is a lot to look forward to. In 2010, Sanctuary Cove will start work on a multi million dollar marina overhaul to increase berths from 313 to 560. The capital works program will also include a super yacht facility capable of accommodating 12 craft up to 50m long.
“The only other marina that caters for these yachts is the Gold Coast City Marina and the Southport Yacht Club, but they’re out of room. There are a lot of boat owners who want to operate their boat for a period of the year and then park it where there is 24-hour security, marina facilities and a marina village with restaurants and retail,” says Jensen.
Back to the present and Jensen and his team have planned for the event to sail smoothly on a raft of innovative product launches. One exclusive launch will be the ‘water breaking’ release of the first suspension equipped jet ski. Other releases include Sunseeker’s $23 million 34m and Maritimo’s A60 enclosed flybridge.
“It shows that there is some renewal in the industry,” says Jensen.
“While there is not a lot of growth in the manufacturing side there’s still a huge amount of growth in facilities and fixtures, engines and lighting. It comes to back to real innovative products. Companies like Aqualuma (underwater lighting) have been exhibiting for more than three years now are really starting to get some market share internationally.
“The boat show is also a great place for the marine industry to do business with others in the industry. That’s where we see the strongest level of sales - where international companies will look at Australian products that are cheaper due to a lower Australian dollar. I think it should be very positive for anyone looking to expand into the international market.
“Australia is renowned for producing quality products and international buyers are finding that reliability, innovation and technology and absolute ability to deliver. Buyers are looking for better fuel economy. There are some engines to be released that are significantly more fuel efficient and typically products to be showcased are more reliable.
“Australian manufacturers are showcasing some very exciting vessels including Markham Marine’s world launch of the Markham 9800; the release of the Koya Ocean Cat range and Montebello Yachts’ world debut of its 12.5m power catamaran.
“As with past years, there is a huge array of new products across the marine sector. Prominent new engine releases include Yanmar’s ZT350 stern drive; the new generation MAN V8 and V12 diesel engines and new models from MTU Detroit Diesel Australia.”
But not all of the Gold Coast’s marine cognoscenti will be represented at this year’s show. Tinnie manufacturer Quintrex, has pulled out, but will have a presence via dealers of its Stacer brand. The boat builder banks on the domestic market for 90 per cent of all sales.
“Stacer will be involved, but there will be no Quintrex this year, it’s not viable. It’s a very big show, but it is not a trailer boat show,” says Quintrex director of sales and marketing Damien Duncan.
Jensen concedes operating costs have increased by 12 per cent this year — 4 per cent of which has been passed on to exhibitors. Tent and pavilion costs alone have increased by up to 40 per cent and are expected to cost Sanctuary Cove owners Mulpha around $800,000.
“We did have to put our prices up in line with CPI this year, but we also absorbed the 8 per cent difference. We are anticipating at least 350 exhibitors at the show. The majority of the exhibitors are local and we have a long-term relationship with exhibitors and some of them have been with the boat show for 21 years,” says Jensen.
The Gold Coast’s marine industry contributed more than $650 million to the local economy last year, while export revenue surpassed $230 million.
The marine industry injects $7.8 billion a year into the Australian economy and employs around 28,000 people. Queensland’s 80 plus boat builders create 80 per cent of all boats built in Australia, while the Gold Coast’s 30 manufacturers create 65 per cent of all Australian craft.
Other power boat debuts include the Australasian release of Outer Reef 63, a 63ft Raised Pilothouse Motor Yacht; New Zealand company Salthouse Marine’s new flybridge styled yacht with quad Volvo IPS600 power plants, the 65Q; and Australian company Allan Barnett Motor Yacht’s world launch of the High Seas 63ft.
Exporters Riviera and Maritimo are releasing new models to the world market as part of the largest on-water display at the show covering almost 4000sqm.
Sail boats include pocket cruiser the West Wight Potter 19; the new Hunter 27 Edge; the Lightwave 45 Grande and the Marten 49. Multihull Solutions, a premier offshore and cruising multihull specialist launches its business at the show while Southern Cross Yachting is promoting its Basic Navigation and Safety theory course.
• Australian company FinScan’s release of an innovative keyless starting, cabin entry and power control biometric product range in a world launch;
• US exhibitor Bob’s Machine Shop’s world release of a new line of jackplates for smaller boats with lower horsepower engines;
• SeaVision Technologies’ Australian boat show launch of the AC-ROV, a diminutive yet powerful underwater robot;
• And New Zealand company Manson Anchors’ launch in Australia of the Manson Racer, an anchor specifically designed for racing yachts.