London Boat Show diversifies into art and jewels
By Avril Ormsby
LONDON (Reuters) - The grey-haired men stood admiring the line of luxury cars at London's ExCel centre while at a nearby stand a woman handed over money for a silver cigarette case -- not the usual things you would expect to buy at a boat show.
But London's International Boat Show, one of the biggest in Europe, is looking to tap into other high-end markets to attract new customers during a recession that has priced out mid-range sailors.
"It's like any industry -- it's looking to diversify," said Michael Enser, head of marketing at the British Marine Federation, which represents businesses from makers of canoes to super yachts.
"It is bringing in high-net worths, and they are reasonably insulated from the economy. If we invite those people into the show who have not been exposed to boats in the past it is a new audience for manufacturers to engage in, to sell their products, and eventually a new boater."
Numbers of people passing through the turnstiles at London's Boat Show have not recovered from pre-recession levels, while exhibitor numbers are down by about 10 percent.
Among the biggest absentees are French boat builder Beneteau along with Dufour and Elan.
"It's still a very sizeable show," said Murray Ellis, managing director of National Boat Shows.
"It is not a reflection of the show, that is purely a reflection of the UK economy and the UK marine market." Continued...