Barnes Brinkcraft’s £1m marina deal

Barnes Brinkcraft's Norfolk Boat Sales manager Matthew Stone at Eastwood Marina in Brundall.PHOTO BY

Barnes Brinkcraft's Norfolk Boat Sales manager Matthew Stone at Eastwood Marina in Brundall.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Hoveton-based Broads operator Barnes Brinkcraft has continued the rapid expansion of its boat sales arm with the purchase of Eastwood Marina, Brundall, in a £1m investment.

Director Daniel Thwaites said he and his brother Matthew launched Norfolk Boat Sales, under the management of Matthew Stone, four years ago – and it had since gone from strength to strength.

He said: 'We wanted to diversify the business and my brother and Matthew, who previously worked for us on the hire fleet side, have always been good at buying and selling boats.

'There is natural wastage every year with the replacement of old boats by new ones on the hire fleet and it has also given us a good outlet to sell them.'

Norfolk Boat Sales had rapidly expanded to three offices in Wroxham, Lowestoft and Brundall where it was the agent for Broom Boats.

Eastwood Marina, bought from Leslie Mogford, would continue to provide 75 high-quality private moorings, but would also have overspill space for sales boats.

Mr Thwaites said they now held £1.5m-worth of stock, ranging from small Hampton river cruisers selling for £10,000 up to a £420,000 Broom 395.

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He said: 'There are strong similarities with a car dealer. We buy boats to sell, part-exchange them and sell them on behalf of others as a brokerage. The key is getting the right stock in at the right price.'

Mr Thwaites said Norfolk Boat Sales had built up to a turnover of more than £2m – an important part of the business's overall £6m turnover – and its success had allowed them to add six staff to their 53-strong workforce.

Diversification had also dramatically increased the efficiency of their business, permitting boatbuilders to focus on refurbishing sales stock during the peak holiday season when most of the hire fleet would be on the water.

The success of their boats sales arm had cushioned the impact of a poor hire season, caused by the cold spring and early summer.

He said: 'It picked up during the heatwave and it now looks as if the hire fleet business will be five to seven per cent down at the end of the season. Three months ago it looked a lot worse than that.'

Mr Thwaites remains confident about the enduring popularity of boating holidays and is investing about £300,000 over the winter on two new eight-berth, 42ft cruisers to join their 85-strong hire fleet. The company's day boats and 12 holiday properties had enjoyed a successful year for bookings.