Boat show sales boom for Norfolk boatbuilders

Sheerline 955

Norfolk boatbuilders are gearing up to expand and take on new staff in the wake of a sales boom fuelled by this month's PSP Southampton Boat Show.

The sales teams at Thorpe-based Wroxham Marine, Broom Boats of Brundall and Haines Marine, at Catfield, returned from the south coast buoyed by strong leads as well as a number of immediate sales.

They had joined more than 600 exhibitors at one of Europe's most prestigious shows, which attracted 110,000 visitors over 10 days.

Gary Applegate, a director of family-owned Wroxham Marine, said: 'We took our revamped Sheerline 955 model, which has new-style hatches, windows and interior fittings, down to the show. We sold it on the very first day to a customer who will moor her at Henley on the Thames.

'Leads generated at the show have already produced three more sales, two extra 955s and a centre cockpit 950.'

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He said that represented nearly £1m worth of orders and came on top of business already picking up ahead of the show.

'We currently have nine boats on order, representing nine months work,' he said. 'We will definitely be adding at least two more boatbuilders to our 16-strong staff. There is a little bit more confidence in the economy helped by the good summer which makes people think about boating.'

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Justin Haines, of Haines Marine, said the company's latest model, the 32 Sedan, had drawn immense attention at the show, helped by a glowing report on the model in leading industry magazine Motor Boats Monthly.

He said: 'We sold a 32 Sedan on the first day and tied up another sale just after the show. We also have a number of positive leads likely to generate another four or five sales.'

He said they had now sold 15 32 Sedans in the model's first year, a 'staggering success' that had prompted them to build a coastal version of the boat with a bigger engine.

Mr Haines said: 'The Thames market has become strong again, the Broads is holding up well and we are getting more and more inquiries from the south coast.'

He said they had reached the point where they could scarcely keep pace with orders and would be looking to increase their workforce from 24 to 28 and add a second line of production.

Greg Houlston, sales and commercial manager at Broom Boats, said they took three boats to the show and had a marquee on the water.

He said: 'On the second day we completed the sale on a 35 Coupe and we have a further potential five sales of various models coming through as a result of the show.'

If all the sales came through, they would be looking to expand in the next 12 months, he added.

He said Broom had exceeded their targets for their first season back in the Broads hire market and were planning to double their hire fleet to eight by the end of next year.

Murray Ellis, managing director at National Boat Shows, said: 'This year's PSP Southampton Boat Show has been another world-class event.

'Visitors have enjoyed their day out with us and a good number have taken the opportunity to try different types of boating and watersports.

'Seeing marine businesses making sales confirms this show as a strong selling platform; people visit our Southampton show to buy boats and this has been very evident this year.'

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