British boat industry buoyed by exchange rate

Fri Jan 9, 2009 4:38pm EST
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's boat manufacturers attending this year's London International Boat Show were in buoyant mood, forecasting that a weaker pound would help them stave off tough competition from abroad.

"London has always been an international show -- we have always had a lot of international visitors, but the vast majority of sales have been from people from the UK," the National Boat Show's Managing Director Andrew Williams said.

"But now what we've got clearly with the way the euro is all of a sudden Europe will want to come here and do their shopping for boats because it is a lot, lot cheaper than it is buying in Europe at the moment."

The boat show, the world's oldest, expects 130,000 visitors to pass through the doors at the ExCeL exhibition center in east London during the next week, a small rise on last year.

International sales tickets, mainly from Europe, are up about 10 percent.

"I think that (the euro) is the silver lining on the economic cloud at the moment," Williams added.

Derek Carter, chief executive at Fairline Boats, based in Oundle, Northamptonshire, said the exchange rate was a "positive development in the world of (British) boats."

About 85 percent of its motor boats, which range in price from 220,000 pounds ($335,300) to 2.3 million pounds, are exported, with a large chunk going to continental Europe.   Continued...

<p>Luxury cruisers are moored outside the London International Boat Show January 9, 2009 REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh</p>