Maritimo to sign finance deal with French bank
Written on the 12 May 2009
BOAT builder Maritimo is working with an international bank to supply credit lines to its dealer network in Australia after the withdrawal of lenders GE Money and GMAC from the marine sector.
Maritimo boss Bill Barry Cotter is negotiating with the French Société Générale Group, a leading financial institution in more than 45 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. The bank employs around 12,000 staff worldwide (with more than 50 per cent based outside France).
“We are working with an overseas bank to supply dealers with finance in Australia. We need to get the money flowing again,” confirms Barry-Cotter, as floor plan finance dries up in the industry.
Barry-Cotter has invested $10 million into three new releases on the eve of the 21st Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. He says that while domestic sales are moderate, the brand has had one of its best years yet at the recent Palm Beach Boat Show in the US.
“Sales have picked up in the US and at the recent Palm Beach Boast Show, one of our representatives said it was the best show in 30 years. It’s (recession) is all over and done.
“The worst place for the downturn at the moment is Australia. We never needed to have a recession, we talked ourselves into it, (but) we’re selling boats right across the board.”
While downsizing has been the buzz word in the auto and marine industries as thousands of manufacturing workers lose their jobs, Maritimo has been vigilant.
“We are trying to stay as we are and we have deliberately held back from employing more staff in case the market gets worse,” says Barry-Cotter.
The boating doyen, who moved to Queensland in 1980 and formed Riviera Marine at Labrador — later branding it The Riviera Group before it was sold to private equity firm Gresham for $165 million — blames bureaucratic bungling for holding back business in the sector.
“Our major problem is the continual interference from local council and State Government,” he says.
“The best thing the Government could do is get out of the road and let the industry get on with its business. It’s all talk and no action and it’s never been any different. There’s a lot of waffle.”
While the US remains the main export market for Maritimo, the brand has defied the slump and appointed a new dealer for its range in the tropical paradise of Puerto Rico.
The new dealership, Yacht Centre of the Caribbean, has president Roger Casellas, a prominent game fishing personality who was once recognised as the world’s No.1 Bertram salesman, at its helm. Casellas formerly directed Latin America sales for the Allied Richard Bertram Marine Group.