17 Sep 2011

Marine industry optimistic about future

6:01 pm on 17 September 2011

An independent survey forecasts that the marine industry in New Zealand will double in size over the next 10 years, with turnover predicted to reach more than $3.7 billion.

The industry is currently showing recovery from a slump in sales after the 2008 global economic crisis.

However, a survey of more than 300 companies shows the industry is bullish, despite the high dollar and financial uncertainty, and is expected to grow by 8% a year and to be employing nearly 10,000 more workers by 2021.

The Marine Industry Association says the optimism reflects the fact that many companies have readjusted their business model to ensure they maintain market share in the current financial situation.

Chief executive Peter Busfield says the "lean" marine manufacturing process they have adopted has astounded everyone by achieving savings of between 20% and 25%.

The survey suggests the superyacht sector, which is worth 10% of total industry turnover, will triple in the next decade to $595 million.

Mr Busfield says it has recovered from 2009 when it received no new orders.

Ten new orders for superyachts were fielded by the New Zealand industry in 2010 - representing a big proportion of the market.

As a result, Mr Busfield says, European boatbuilders have retaliated by ensuring they are much more price-competitive, so New Zealand now faces much tougher competition from them.

He sees the strongest growth for the sector coming from refits of superyachts as well as locally-owned recreational boats.