Norfolk boat builders predict sales boom after London show

Norfolk boat builders are predicting a massive boost to new year sales after a promising start to the London Boat Show.

Nearly all the key players in the region's marine industry are at ExCel London for the country's biggest annual showcase which runs until Sunday.

Windboats Hardy, which employs 50 staff at its bases in North Walsham and Wroxham, has been attracting tremendous interest in its Hardy 40DS, making it debut at the show.

Managing-director Oliver James said: 'The brand new styling, giving a contemporary feel to the interior, has gone down very well. We are not moving away from our traditional style but are aiming to give the customer a choice and open up new markets.'

Mr James, who was proud to see the firm's flagship Hardy 62 highly commended at the show in Motorboat Monthly's national awards, is confident interest will be translated into sales by enthusiasts looking to change their boats later this year.

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Haines Marine, of Catfield, is showcasing its Sedan 32 which has become the firm's best seller since its launch at Excel last year, and director Mary Haines said there had been 'an awful lot of interest'.

She said: 'It has been very busy. We have not signed a contract yet but are very hopeful of doing so in the next few days. It is unusual to sell a boat on the stand; most sales happen a week or two after the show.'

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Mrs Haines said there had been a lot of advance interest in their new offshore version of the Sedan 32 which would be launched later in the year.

Peter Applegate, boss of Wroxham Marine, which builds its range of Sheerline motor cruisers in Thorpe, said there had been considerable interest in their 955 and 45 models on display and he knew of potential customers still to come to the show. A good order book for the months ahead has already seen the company take on four extra boatbuilders before Christmas.

David Tydeman, CEO of Hoveton-based Oyster Yachts, said their presence at the show was part of a strategy of 'starting the conversation' with buyers of the luxury brand. Their main focus would be on the Dusseldorf Boat Show later this month when the Oyster 825 would make its debut.

Norfolk Boat Sales, of Wroxham, is displaying English Harbour Yachts' 16ft launch, for which it is agent, and boss Matthew Thwaites said there had been huge interest.

Shaun Wigley, MD of Beccles-based ASAP, said interest in their stand, highlighting their massive range of marine products, had been 'phenomenal'.

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