Act now to keep boat industry buoyant, says marine entrepreneur Jonny Boys from Trafalgar Group
Jonny, who runs The Trafalgar Group in Hamilton Road, Portchester, said that despite the difficult spring, when lockdown caused most leisure boating to be halted, the summer has brought new confidence.
He has seen an increase in boat storage at his giant Drystack, more members at his boat share club and good sales of new and used RIBs and power boats.
However, he added that now is not the time to be complacent, especially following the last minute cancellation of the huge boat shows in Southampton last week, which were expected to draw crowds of thousands and pump millions into the marine industry.
Jonny said: ‘The thing I noticed about lockdown was that there was a lot of co-operation rather than competition. We've got to approach autumn and winter in the same way. We can't let things get us down. We have to be positive and proactive.
‘As the boat shows in Southampton were cancelled, it's going to cause a domino effect in Portsmouth, Poole, Chichester and Brighton.
‘I really felt for everyone who tried to get the boat shows arranged in Southampton, only for them to be cancelled at the last moment.
‘The marine industry made a big effort to get the shows organised. People were really looking forward to them.’
The Trafalgar Group also planned its own boat show, which runs daily until September 20.
Jonny said: ‘With our own boat show at Trafalgar Wharf, we've had to cancel the masterclasses and paddleboard experiences, but our arrangements mean the boat club experiences and RIB trials can still go ahead. We're very lucky.’
A combination of factors have seen business boom at the dock, with holiday makers taking advantage of the facilities on their doorstep, something Jonny said he wants to encourage through the winter.
Jonny said: ‘Things have been getting back to a new normal and staycationers have really boosted the business.
‘Boat buyers will put things off until the spring if we don’t so something fast. What can we do to help the industry now? The worst thing is not that boat sales slow down. It's that we don't do anything to keep them going.
‘One of the reasons people don't buy boats is because they don't want to pay for storage over the winter, but what if this winter’s storage cost nothing? And you could buy a boat now, enjoy it over the autumn and winter, and go boating, no matter what happens? We did an offer like this just after lock down and hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of boats got sold.’
Jonny is offering a free Drystack space to anyone who buys a motorboat in the next month, which is less than three years old and under 9.5m long, and has never stored at the wharf before.
He said: ‘If it helps a new boat owner go boating or a broker sell a boat, then we're at least doing something positive for the industry. Let's invoke the spirit of Trafalgar!’