GMBA is a group of 14 marine industry senior professionals, located across fourteen countries with each consultant having unique and extensive experience in the recreational marine industry. For this reason GMBA was invited by the Finnish export promotion organisation Viexpo, to provide a two day boating industry up-date as part of Viexpo’s digital “Export Webinar Week” held last week.
Viexpo serves small and medium-sized companies in various stages of the export path as part of the Team Finland network and as the internationalisation unit of the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Ostrobothnia.
With an audience of boatbuilders and manufacturers looking to expand their businesses it was important that the webinar provide an up to date overview of international markets that were identified as important to the Finnish industry. GMBA with its extensive global network and level of accrued knowledge made the group the ideal choice to run this export programme.
The GMBA presentations were impressive covering key practical information concerning the following markets UK, France, Southeast Asia & China, Spain, Russia, Italy, Poland, USA, Norway and Sweden. Moderator for the event was Jouko Huju, GMBA Finland who also gave the opening address. GMBA consultants who presented were Piotr Jasionowski GMBA Poland, Anastasia Kobzeva GMBA Russia, David Lewin GMBA UK, Thom Dammrich GMBA USA, YP Loke GMBA Singapore, Lorenzo Pollicardo GMBA Italy, Jean Michel Gaigné GMBA France and Oscar Siches GMBA Spain. The keynote address was given by Baltic Yachts CEO, Anders Kurten. The 8 GMBA presentations were complemented by presentations by Mats Eriksson of Sweboat, Lars-Åke Redeen of Båtliv Magazine and Magnus Ryhjell of Norboat.
On speaking with Anders Kurten, CEO Baltic Yachts he was enthusiastic regarding his participation in the webinar stating, “I was honoured to deliver the introductory keynote in the Viexpo Virtual Export Event last week. It was a genuine pleasure, and the number of active participants clearly highlighted the need for events like this. In these challenging times, the Finnish Marine Industry needs collaborative efforts to thrive and become even better positioned to tackle the inevitable challenges ahead.”
In the current environment most people are so busy working in their business they struggle to find the time to work on their business, so it was heartening to see 60 owners register for the webinar. Clearly having this level of expertise and information in one place at one time was a huge bonus for the Finnish marine sector.
A key presentation of interest was on the Russian market, delivered by Anastasia Kobzeva, GMBA Russia and Head of the Russian Boat Builders Centre (Rusboats). Anastasia advised that Russian shipyards actively use imported components for boating and shipping production which are often supplied by their closest neighbour and strategic partner Finland and at the same time despite the high competition from regional manufacturers Russian export markets have grown in recent years. As a result of this growth Anastasia felt Russia provided many opportunities for international trade. Anastasia said “Expert information on regional markets is very important for the development of international competition and it is impossible to collect and analyse all that information yourself in these challenging times so it is important to hold webinars such as this to support local companies find new niches for the development and sale of their products.”
GMBA delivered a webinar that not only covered the statistical elements of the boating industry in each market but included the following:
• Specific country economic data
• Boating culture,
• Dealer networks
• Market entry tips and suggestions
• Information re key media, marine industry associations and boat shows within each country
• Sales & marketing strategies
David Lewin, GMBA UK commented, “The presentations all had a good overview of the strengths of each market and while most of the statistics can be gleaned from the internet the consolidation of the information and the insights provided by the consultants who have spent years in the industry provided a unique insight into these markets. What GMBA brings to an event like this was intimate, personal knowledge of these markets, the idiosyncrasies of the boats and the environment in which they are used, as well as a huge network of contacts that can assist exporters if they wish to investigate the opportunities in each market.”
Lorenzo Pollicardo, GMBA Italy also made the point, “Whilst information can be found on the web it is always very difficult if not impossible to synthesise this information and understand its direct relevance to your own business and this is where experienced objective industry professionals in that country can assist. Lorenzo also made the point that we as advisors can be very candid as we are all independent and not aligned to specific organisations. Lorenzo stated that Italy, with a strong manufacturing industry and a growing domestic market is a land of opportunities for the marine business. There is increasing domestic demand and national boating confidence, boat production continues to be strong with an increasing need of a reliable supply chain.”
Thom Dammrich GMBA USA, a well-known presenter on the marine industry in the USA stated, “The USA represents over 50% of the world market. Domestic manufacturers have backlogs stretching to the middle of 2021. The key to success is being dealer centric. Meet dealer expectations and they will work for you. 80% of US boat sales are concentrated in the top 20 boating states. 95% of Americans live within one hour of a navigable body of water.”
YP Yoke GMBA Singapore, talked about Asia, making the following comments, “The information I presented on Asia is more qualitative than quantitative. It’s hard to get qualitative data in Asian as no one is collecting it. Asian markets are also not as transparent as European markets. This means local knowledge and having someone on the ground is key in most Asian markets. Legal systems are also not always efficient or the best way to resolve issues. This leads to the need to build personal relationships. The concept of guanxi (the word has made it to the Oxford Dictionary) in Chinese culture encapsulates this.”
Oscar Siches GMBA Spain, an expert on the Spanish market highlighted the fact Spain is very bureauocratic with an excess of unnecessary rules and regulations, sometimes against EU core principles. There were 6080 new boats over 2.5m sold in 2019. 250 were > 12m.
Oscar emphasised the point, “You need an honest local partner to deal with the legal (and not so legal) issues. You also need an external audit to present the real state of business. Get involved, study the market, get to know people, the press, associations. Be present at least in the beginning more than you would expect.”
Jean-Michel Gaigné GMBA France stated, “The French market can be seen as a difficult one due to the fame of major boat yards exporting boats throughout the world. However, considering the added value brought by OEM suppliers, there are many opportunities for equipment, engine, fittings manufacturers etc… as long as they are prepared to deal in French and to cope with regional specificities. Therefore, the home-grown expertise of in market consultants could be a helping factor.”
It is easy to understand with this level of presentations, providing such a practical understanding of each market, feedback from the audience was extremely positive.
Geir Söraker who participate in the webinar, owns and operates a company called Ertec A/S (Norway) supplying windshields and other products to the majority of the Finnish boat manufacturers had this to say, “This webinar was most probably the best boating event and best hours spent within the boating industry in my career. I was really impressed about how concrete and to the point the advice you were able to give was. Comprehensive information from very experienced and skilled speakers.”
This is the first webinar organised by GMBA who will be providing similar programmes for other countries. Given businesses are unable to travel these days to gather this information, being able to have access to this level of insight and expertise is important for businesses looking to expand their export markets. A key takeout from all presentations is the importance to have local knowledge and someone on the ground you can trust.
The GMBA team has extensive global networks and broad sector expertise providing the ability to cover many industry sectors.
For further information
Mobile:+358 40 5509310.
Disclaimer: Global Marine Business Advisors and its associated website www.gmba.blue are not registered legal entities. GMBA is a network of independent marine industry advisors. In all articles the opinions expressed are those of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of GMBA