London Boat Show sees calmer waters after recession

Fri Jan 8, 2010 12:17pm EST
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The recession has taken its toll on London's International Boat Show this year with fewer exhibitors and smaller attendances expected, but boat-builders are more confident for 2010, organizers said on Friday.

Britain's marine industry has had to cut back during the deepest recession in decades, with employment falling 2.5 percent, and production at many boat yards being hacked back.

But there was an air of confidence and optimism for the coming year, carried over from Britain's other international boat show at Southampton in September, buoyed by the weakness of the pound, new markets, the development of niche products, and increased numbers of customer enquiries.

"Like every other sector of industry it has been a hard 2009, but a lot of our leading players took some tough decisions at the start of the recession which means they are now in a position to sustain themselves through it," said Howard Pridding, executive director at the industry group the British Marine Federation (BMF).

About 500 exhibitors will be at the 10-day show, which began on Friday, 40 down on last year.

Visitor numbers to the London Excel center, likely to be affected by a combination of recession and snowstorms, are expected to be about 12,000 lower than the recent three-year average of 122,000.

Some boat-builders were lured by late discounts and others have reduced the number of boats they have on show.

But figures from the BMF showed only 12 percent of respondents to its six-monthly survey viewed the future negatively, compared with 38 percent in late 2008.   Continued...