HARD TIMES in the boating industry

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by brian eiland, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    The Beneteau Group, the world's largest yacht builder, is likely to lay off up to 800 workers in the face of orders down 50% from 2008. Already their US plant has let 10% of their staff go, with more likely to follow.

    Here's London correspondent Presuming Ed's translation of the story in the Le Figaro:
    The management of the Vendee based group is preparing a social plan, necessary to overcome a disastrous year for the leisure sector. All areas are affected: sail cruising, racing, and motor boats. Since January, the 2000 employees at Beneteau and the 1500 at Jenneau have been working reduced hours. This measure hasn't been enough. "We recently shared with our staff our concerns about the collapse of the market," said Bruno Cathelinais, chairman of the board. “We are considering the manpower the company will need next year. It is about finding the right balance between the rescue of most jobs and the sustainability of the group." No total has been announced.

    According to an internal Benetau document seen by the unions, the reduction in the order book equates to 2.7 million working hours. This represents 2000 jobs, according to the CGT union. According to our information, the reduction in staffing levels will be of the order of 700 to 800 people, out of the total of 3940 at Beneteau and Jeanneau. “It's not reasonable to consider an alternative to a social plan” says an employee of the group. Everyone is preparing for an announcement in April.

    "Since January, sales are down 50% in France compared to the same period in 2008. The world's leading boat builder is also very exposed to the Spanish and British markets, where the decline was even more brutal. The Paris boat show in December resulted in a satisfactory order book, but since then the shows in London and Dusseldorf in January confirmed the severity of the downturn. After having passed the 1bn in turnover landmark last year, the group doesn't expect to turnover more than 646 to 742 million euro this year, a decline of 30 to 40%.

    “We're suffering” said a Beneteau dealer. “The market for new boats is more affected than the second hand market. Normally, I sell one new boat a week. Over the last few months, it's been one boat every two weeks.
    Beneteau hopes for recovery in 2010, but analysts believe that this will not happen before 2011. According to one expert “The smaller boat builders are doing well. The situation is more complicated for large companies that have stocks of boats.” The last social plan of Beneteau, one of the larger employers in the Vendee region, was in 1993. Since then, growth in the sector has been dramatic. Beneteau sales have grown at an average of 16% year on year over the last decade.

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