Jouko Huju of GMBA Finland: The geographical focus of the marine industry in Finland between the 2008 recession and the pandemic of 2020 has shifted.

According to publicly available revenue statistics, the coastal areas of Ostrobothnia between Vaasa and Lohtaja make up over 60% of Finnish marine production value.

The first reflections of troubles in the global economy manifested themselves on Finnish marine manufacturing in the spring of 2008, as export orders began getting cancelled. Demand declined at record speed, especially in Finland’s main markets, Sweden and Norway. The year 2009 saw a decline of over 40% in sales. Finland was far from alone with this problem; indeed, similar problems arose across the world, as demand began dropping. Even superyacht manufacturers witnessed a similar shock in demand. 12 years later, demand has partly bounced back and continues its steady rise, but even today, we have yet to reach the figures for 2008, when 6,000 new boats were registered in Finland. In the summer of 2020 COVID induced an odd boost in sales and in some countries the inventory was sold out. Of course, these figures must be read in the context of the “staycation”. People were not able to travel and that may of course continue for some time.

Finnish marine industry entrepreneurs have succeeded exceptionally well in their efforts at reviving demand. Exports make up around 70% of production value, and there are companies in our marine industry that practically produce for export alone.

Out of the large producers in Ostrobothnia, Baltic Yachts and Nautor are foreign-owned, but their production lines have remained in Finland in their entirety. Linex Boats, Sarins Båtar, and Botnia Marin produce consistently good results and have found new markets through their bold moves, for example in the US. Finnmaster Boats was bought by the Terra Patris Group (which also owns Seliö Boats), and they, too, have seen their determined product development bear fruit. When one includes some other smaller recreational boat producers and equipment manufacturers, the regional sales for Ostrobothnia rise to some 235 million €.

The municipality of Ähtäri is a significant production site for aluminium boats Europe-wide. Inhan Tehtaat (Yamaha-owned), Terhitec’s Silver unit (Brandt Group) and the hull producer Campnou have developed world-class know-how over the decades. Marine manufacturing revenue for the city of Ähtäri alone exceeds 40 million €. Some of the products of Inhan Tehtaat are produced in Poland as well these days.

Southwestern Finland has traditionally been a significant marine manufacturing region. This situation has changed over the last few years. Terhitec, who produce Terhi boats in Rymättylä, are the most important player in the region. After Nauticat ceased its production in Southwest Finland, it now only boasts of some smaller producers, and the regional revenues fall just below 10 million €.

Yamarin boats, now part of Inhan Tehtaat, are produced in Valkeakoski, Seliö Boats in Sammatti, and partly in Poland’s Augustow. Yamarin, whose registration statics long placed it among the top three boats in the country, continues to be a significant brand – Valkeakoski registered over 10 million € in marine industry revenues in 2019.

Bella-Veneet, which operates out of Kuopio, have been in a league of their own for many years, as far as sales are concerned. At their heights, these could reach 80 million €. The company was long partly owned by the American company Brunswick, but the business was sold in its totality to the Swedish Nimbus Boat Group in 2017. Currently, sales for Bella-Veneet stand between 25 and 30 million €, the company has invested heavily in product development, and there is an expectation of steady growth under new ownership.

There is also significant production activity in Eastern Finland. AMT-Veneet, based out of Kontiolahti, is a steady grower and has performed well in exports. There are several recreational boat producers in this region of Finland. Suvi-Veneet (Mikkeli) and Suomi-Veneet (Kesälahti) are producers of thousands of small boats, and the overall turnover for Eastern Finland stands at around 12 million €.

The Southern Coast, too, is home to some significant marine manufacturers. Juha Snell Oy has raced to top five in the registration statistics with its aluminium boats, and export figures for work boats are healthy, too. Freja Marin (TG-Veneet), Marino, Magnusson & Stoor as well as Heinlahden Veistämö are significant players. The sales for this region stand at about 20 million €.

I will be happy to receive any suggestions for corrections or additions to these figures. The purpose of this blog post was to provide an overview of the most significant regions for the Finnish marine manufacturing industry in a post-recession landscape. The number of Finnish boat manufacturers stands at just above 40.

Disclaimer: Global Marine Business Advisors and its associated website 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