Broom Boats has unveiled the luxury new craft that will signal its re-entry into the Broads hire market.

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Praise for EDP/Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey

Broom Boats managing director Mark Garner has praised the value of the EDP/Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey. Urging businesses to fill in the survey before the deadline on February 3, he said: “As a new player in the market, it will be extremely useful to have a bank of industry statistics to benchmark ourselves against.”

For the past six years, the EDP has teamed up with Larking Gowen for the survey, the data from which has been used by individual businesses to identify key industry trends, shape future planning and lobby decision makers. Now, for the first time, the survey is embracing tourism firms in Suffolk as well as Norfolk. To take part go to www.tourismsurveys.co.uk and click on the link. It should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete. To complete the survey by telephone, call Nick Ward on 0845 4081732.

The first two-berth Broom Cadet and four-berth Broom Captain have emerged from the shed at the firm’s Brundall yard ready for the start of the season on March 22.

A second boat in each class is under construction and will be finished in time for Broom’s comeback to hiring after a gap of eight years.

The craft, based on the Broom 30 and 35 models, have only been marketed through Hoseasons since just before Christmas and managing director Mark Garner is buoyed by the fact 16 weeks have already been booked on the first two vessels.

He said: “We are very excited about returning to the hire market which Broom had been in for 40 years until it came out in 2005. We regard it as a key part of the DNA of Broom.

“We plan to build four hire craft a year for the next four or five years and establish a fleet of 20 to 22 boats.

“We will then look further afield to hiring boats on other waterways, first in Britain and eventually perhaps on the continent.”

The names Cadet and Captain revive the class names of the company’s previous generation of hire boats; Broom plans in time to add larger family-sized cruisers to its hire fleet.

Mr Garner, who started his career as an accountant at Lovewell Blake and took the helm at Broom in 2010, said: “We are focusing on the top five per cent of the charter market providing top end luxury in terms of the accommodation and experience the customer has.”

He feels they are pitching their prices very keenly at £500 to £600 a week in the shoulder periods and £1,200 to £1,300 in high season.

“Since Broom stopped hiring, several former customers have stayed in contact and are delighted we are coming back,” he said.

He believes the opportunity to hire a Broom boat will be used as a trial by some people considering buying one.

Mr Garner, who describes himself as a “Norwich lad” with a lifelong passion for Broom and Lotus, joined Broom at the worst time in the company’s history with an empty order book.

After initially having to lay off 72 staff, he has gradually built up the workforce again from a low point of 50 to 73.

He said: “We built five boats in 2010, 11 boats in 2011 and 21 last year.”

The prospects for this year were already looking comfortable with 12 boats already in the order book.

“Twenty years ago, 90pc of Broom sales were in the UK and 10pc on the continent. Now 65pc of sales are on the continent,” he said.

“We are working hard to get a foot hold in China and are also in dealership discussions in Finland. As well as opening up the Baltic market the dealer we are talking to also has a presence in St Petersburg.”

He said they were following up some promising leads from the London Boat Show and had enjoyed a “cracking start” to the Dusseldorf Boat Show which got under way earlier this week.

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