World's yacht makers dock at Paris Boat Show

6th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 5 (AFP) - The biggest manufacturers in the French yacht-making industry, including world leader Beneteau, have gathered at the Paris Boat Show this week to show off their wares to crowds of pleasure-seekers.

PARIS, Dec 5 (AFP) - The biggest manufacturers in the French yacht-making industry, including world leader Beneteau, have gathered at the Paris Boat Show this week to show off their wares to crowds of pleasure-seekers.

Organisers were expecting a further increase in sales this year amid booming demand worldwide for leisure equipment and some of the 1,400 exhibitors were counting on booking half of their annual sales during the 10-day event.

France remains the biggest maker of pleasure sailing yachts in the world and the fifth-largest manufacturer of motorised leisure boats.

In the yachting arena, a closely watched development in recent times has been the heightened price competition between family-run French group Beneteau, French newcomer Poncin Yachts and Germany's Bavaria yachts.

Some observers have noted that Europe, with high labour costs and stringent health and safety regulations, now faces a growing challenge to retain its world-leading position in yacht manufacturing amid a trend towards industrial manufacturing techniques.

The first-ever Chinese exhibitor at the Paris Boat Show served as an illustration of this development as the leading companies battle to make sailing boats, once the exclusive preserve of the rich, more accessible to less affluent enthusiasts.

The Chinese yacht, borne of a collaboration between ChangMei Leasure Boats and France's Multisailing International, measured 8.70 metres and was on sale for EUR 70,000.

Another trend in France in recent years has been a shift towards longer boats, which exacerbates congestion in French marinas where berthing spots are already in short supply.

According to data from the French boating federation FIN, the number of registrations of new boats measuring 10-15 metres doubled in 2004 compared with 1997, while registrations for boats of less than 6.0 meters were stable.

In 1997, 507 boats in the 10-15 metre category were registered, while the number had leapt to 1,110 in 2004.

French boat manufacturers complain that a lack of berths in French marinas has lead to a stagnation in boat sales in France. Restrictive planning laws protect French coastlines and limit the number of new projects.

Some statistics suggest that the country could have a shortage of 54,000 berths, with the problem concentrated on the Mediterranean coast around exclusive holiday spots such as St Tropez and Cannes.

"The French Mediterranean has been completely saturated for the last five years," head of marketing for Beneteau, Jean-François de Premorel, told AFP.

As many as 18,000 people are on a waiting list for a berth in the popular Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur (PACA) region in south-east France.

"The congestion in marinas in PACA is such that it is a very limiting factor on our activites in the region," added Premorel.

The 45th Paris Boat Show opened on Saturday and runs until December 12.

The president of French boating federation FIN, Anette Roux, said that French boat makers were expected to increase production by 5-6 percent this year after a 6.8 percent increase to EUR 1.008bn in 2004.

Beneteau is expected to make about a quarter of its annual sales at the show, while some of the smaller exhibitors will make up to a half.

About 300,000 visitors are expected to the exhibition centre in the outskirts of Paris to see 1,400 exhibitors from 23 different countries.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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