So what are the lessons to be gleaned from the just completed Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show?
My thoughts after many meetings and informal discussions are as follows
- New building activity is up. The bigger builders like Fincantieri, Amels, Lürssen (builder of 180 metre long “Azzam”, said to be the world’s largest superyacht – I hate the terms gigayacht – ) and others all report strong order books, although probably not yet at pre-banking crisis levels. Want a slot with a top builder? Expect to wait at least 3-4 years. Smaller local boat builders who suffered a lot are also reportedly doing well and middle eastern buyers are said to be particularly active in the market.
- Many brokers say that the used market remains relatively soft. No one pays the list price and some yachts are being sold at remarkable discounts. Its a buyers market, save for the very high end, so it might be a good time for potential buyers to cut a deal.
- Fiscal issues still dominate with lawyers like myself, accountants and yacht managers. Asset finance is still available from some lenders for the right deal and the relaxation of Spanish Matriculation tax for commercial charter yachts is great news not just for yacht owners but also for Spain, which should benefit from increased commercial activity in and around ports and marinas. Its a win-win situation!
- The impact of MLC 2006 with regard to yachts is still working through the industry. Certainly, Bargate Murray have been heavily involved in preparing and advising upon Seafarer Employment Agreements and associated work as well as advice on EU importation.
Overall, there is increased “positivity” in the market from all the major players which can only be good news.
Quentin Bargate, Senior Partner and Head of the Superyacht Group