Lesley Robinson is the CEO of British Marine, the trade association for the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry. Superyacht UK is an association within British Marine and represents nearly 300 business across the UK superyacht sector.
The UK’s superyacht industry has many reasons to be confident. As an industry we recently celebrated our sixth consecutive year of growth, and a recent report from Superyacht UK indicated two thirds of businesses trading in the sector are optimistic for the future. It’s encouraging to see international demand is largely stable despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This is partly due to the weaker pound, with turnover growing £697m in 2017/18 and contributing £520m in GVA to the UK’s GDP. Indeed, the UK has a proud heritage as a leader in superyacht design and manufacturing, it’s no surprise we are currently ranked third in the world for deliveries.
That said, Brexit represents significant uncertainty for the industry. Supply chains and trading relations are being affected by the lack of clarity around the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. And whilst the global market for superyacht business remains steady, European partners are hesitant to take on additional risks by working with businesses based in the UK. Consequently, it’s important that we seek to maintain a strong domestic market as well as exploring opportunities further afield.
"It’s crucial we recognise the role our industry must play in tackling issues around the environment head on"
While we seek to nurture tomorrow’s talent through next week’s Superyacht UK Young Designer Competition, held during The Superyacht Design Forum in London from 25-26 June, it’s also vital that we look after the environment that future generations will inherit. It’s crucial we recognise the role our industry must play in tackling issues around the environment head on, as more and more superyacht owners are seeking to improve the impact their yachts have on our world.
Undoubtedly good progress has been made on this front. We’re seeing motor yachts with improved fuel-efficiency and electric drive, and solar-panelled sailing yachts with no hydrocarbons on board. Spirit Yachts’ flagship ‘eco yacht’, the Spirit 111, has a motor that will propel the yacht silently for up to 40nm at eight knots from battery power alone. But real improvements will only be achieved if marine companies challenge each other to progress and enhance their eco-credentials. As the leading trade association for the UK’s superyacht and boating manufacturers, we’re proud to be industry facilitators; helping our members become more environmentally friendly and facilitating ways for them to reduce their carbon footprint.
As we look ahead, the future does look bright: demand for the UK’s elite manufacturers and designers is consistently on the rise, but we need to tackle issues like sustainability head on as a collective industry to leave the next generation of mariners with an undamaged environment to enjoy.
For a further insight into the sessions we have scheduled for The Superyacht Design Forum, 25 to 26 June, Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, please see the full programme here. Remaining tickets are available here.
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