Favourable winds on boat market due to economic outlook
Promising economic signs are visible also in the Finnish boat industry, although a period of exceptionally cold weather in April and May affected the boat sales that are sensitive to weather conditions and economic cycles. The current backlog of orders anticipates moderate growth for the industry; however, some manufacturers are already experiencing a labour shortage.
"Especially sales of small boats were slowed down by the chilly spring months, but the situation was largely improved in June and July. As the outlook for the economy is positive and the weather is warmer, domestic boat sales are expected to be in an exceptionally good shape even in August," estimates Jarkko Pajusalo, Managing Director of the Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat.
The positive signs can be seen also at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show starting on 17 August. The show brings over 150 exhibitors to the piers and shores, with more than 250 boats on display. The exhibition area offering boat equipment, boating gear and related services has been made over completely.
"The Boat-Afloat Show measures the boat industry's late-season performance. The fact that the piers are fully booked again is a positive indication," Pajusalo points out.
The importance of exports to the Finnish boat industry remains as great as ever. Sweden has reinforced its position as Finland's top export destination: Compared to the same period last year, the value of trade increased in January to May by 21 per cent reaching 45.7 million euros, as 3,700 boats were shipped to Finland's western neighbour.
In Finland, the boat industry is a significant employer: The companies in the field directly employ 3,500 people, while the total employment effect lies between 4,000 and 6,000 people. Unlike in the other Nordic countries, boat building is going strong in Finland. In the previous year, as much as 73 per cent of Finnish production was exported elsewhere.
Domestic boat registrations remained more or less at the previous year's level. During the first seven months of 2017, altogether 3,013 boats were registered, a decline of two per cent from last year. The most important change was the rapid growth in personal watercraft (PWC) sales: 620 watercrafts were registered, that is, nearly seven per cent more than in the previous year.
The majority of the registered boats, 76 per cent, were standard motor boats. In addition, 58 inflatable boats (+65.7%) and five hovercraft were registered.
As predicted early in the year, sales of large sailing boats have been slow. While in the first months of 2016 a total of 22 sailing boats were registered, this summer there were only five such registrations.
The registration statistics feature sailing boats or motor boats at least 5.5 metres long or with engine ratings of at least 15 kilowatts:
01 Motor boat
02 Sailing boat
05 Personal watercraft
Finnish boat exports in January-May amounted to 106.6 million euros. The most significant export destinations continue to be Sweden and Norway, accounting for over 70 per cent of Finland's boat exports. In the early part of the year, Finnish boat exports increased to the USA, Russia, Germany and Sweden, while they decreased to Norway, the UK and France.
On the whole, the value of Finnish boat exports fell slightly below the corresponding period of last year. This was basically due to the fact that in the first half of 2016, two boats were exported to Malta at the aggregate value of over 30 million euros.
"No individual deliveries of that magnitude were made in early 2017, while there was strong growth in the exports to the USA and Russia, as a result of which these two countries made a comeback into the Top 5 of Finnish boat export markets," Jarkko Pajusalo says.
The five biggest boat export destinations in January-May were:
During this period, other countries or where Finnish boat exports reached a total value of over one million euros were the British Virgin Islands, the UK, France, Switzerland, Greenland, Japan, the United States Virgin Islands and Italy.
Imports of boats and personal watercraft
The most significant import sources of sailing boats and motor boats were the United States, Poland and Sweden. When considering the imports from 11 countries traditionally prominent in the boat industry, the import volumes increased by almost 100 boats to a total of 522 boats, but given the decrease in the average boat size, the total value of the imports fell by 22 per cent to approximately eight million euros.
The international PWC markets are experiencing strong growth, which is manifest in Finland as increasing volumes in both imports and exports. PWC are imported into Finland mainly from Mexico and Japan and re-exported from Finland to other EU countries. The total value of boat imports including PWC rose by 22 per cent to 35.9 million euros.
Value of boat imports in January-May 2017, PWC included:
At this stage, import statistics concerning outboard engines are only available on wholesale deliveries in January-June. The total number of outboard engines delivered through Finnish importers was 16,880, which is at the same level as in the corresponding period of last year. Of these outboard engines, 8,472 (+3.5%) were delivered to Finland and 8,408 (-3.2%) were re-exported.
Further press information
Jarkko Pajusalo, Managing Director, Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat