19 July 2018
Norfolk Yacht Agency and boat builders Haines Marine have moved to dispel the doom and gloom around the industry to hail a “summer of success”.
The two companies, who have worked in partnership since 2006, say a flood of new launches and orders is evidence of a “buoyant” market.
Nine new Haines boats, both offshore and river cruisers costing from £116,000 to £500,000, have been launched or commissioned this summer through Brundall and Horning-based NYA.
The news comes as a boost to the industry after Broom’s announced earlier this year they would end more than 100 years of boat-building at Brundall, citing increasing material costs and a fall in demand for luxury boats.
Oyster Yachts, another Broads boat-builder, was bought out of receivership in March, while organisers of the London Boat Show announced last month the cancellation of January’s planned show.
But James Fraser, managing director of NYA, which employs 27 staff and offers an incredible range of boats for sale at its two bases, said the reality was far more positive.
“There has been a lot of negativity, and I think it can easily knock confidence in the industry,” he added. “But boat building is very much alive and well in Norfolk, and recently Haines launched three brand new boats on the same day.
“It’s been a real summer of success, and it’s important to put across the other side of the story.”
Justin Haines, director at Haines Marine, whose 18 staff build up to 20 boats a year at Catfield, said the impression given by some in the industry that the UK boat market was “almost non existent” was wrong.
“There’s been talk about UK boat building as if it were dead, that it’s not competitive with European competition, but it’s not accurate,” he added. “There’s a niche in boat-building where we’ve thrived, that niche being bespoke, hand-crafted and high quality boats.
“Knowing our niche is what’s driven sales. People are looking for something a little different, having a boat tailored to their exact needs, and that’s what’s delivered all these sales.
“We’ve build a reputation in the industry for doing what others don’t do, which is bespoke building, and ensuring quality craftsmanship throughout the build, an aspect which does appeal to the bulk of our market – typically the more discerning boat buyer. And that market is pretty buoyant.”
Earlier this year, renowned naval architect Stuart Roy took delivery of a Haines 32 Offshore, a big vote of confidence in the company’s workmanship.
“It was quite a compliment,” said Mr Haines, whose father Bob still works in the business he founded in 1980.
“We have boats going all over the UK, as well as the Broads, with the south coast and Channel Islands good growth markets, plus a strong and growing export market to Holland.
“Getting a new boat into a new marina is the best advert we’ve got – it does generate new business.”
Mr Fraser, whose company sold more than 300 new and used boats last year, said Haines were “proper boat builders doing old fashioned boat building”, which appeals to buyers over the deskilled production methods employed by most European competitors.
“They build a boat from scratch, producing all the woodwork and mouldings in house, whereas the bulk of the boat builders out there are production builders, more like assemblers, with very limited choice,” he added.
“It gives far more possibilities and, because of the efficient way the yard is run, they are no more expensive.
“We both have a very open-minded approach and work as a team, with very much a personal approach to how we all do our business.”