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New look London Boat Show celebrates vibrant atmosphere across five-day format

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The 2018 London Boat Show drew to a close yesterday (Sunday 14 January 2018) amidst incredible sales reports, a vibrant atmosphere, strong visitor numbers and the fantastic launch of the all new Boating & Watersports Holiday Show. The changes made to the 2018 Show were a success amongst exhibitors and visitors alike, highlighting a renewed confidence in the future of the London Boat Show, with many companies instantly requesting space for 2019.

Over the course of the five-day event, more than 52,000 visitors enjoyed a range of boats and products on offer from 347 exhibitors; this represents a significant average daily increase on attendance from 2017.  Attracting attention from visitors and media around the globe, the Show offered a fantastic platform to launch 94 brand new products. Eleven World debuts included the magnificent Princess V50, Hanse 348 and Rodman’s Spirit 42 Coupe, with the Sunseeker 76 offering visitors the chance to see the biggest boat at the Show.

With brand new attractions for 2018, the Show provided more opportunities for visitors to get on the water for free – or learn and practise new skills on dry land. Powered by Rockley Watersports, ‘Chalk and talk’ sessions on the Show’s new Beach Club gave visitors an insight into some of the latest watersports activities, before trying them out on the Activity Pool. Close to 500 people also enjoyed the wakeboarding experience located in the new Adventure Park. The Lock and Waterside Pub, overlooking the new inland boating attraction, provided a welcome pitstop for a well-deserved pint and gave a feeling of life next to the waterways. On Saturday(13 January) alone, over 3,000 people paid a visit to just some of the new inland boats on display for 2018, demonstrating that staycations are still high on the list as a holiday experience of choice.

Keen boaters and novices flocked to the Practical Boat Owner Theatre where they crowded around to listen intently to their expert heroes such as Tom Cunliffe, Dave Selby and Stokey Woodall.  Whether offering advice on how to kit up for the next cruise, what to take, or boating on a budget, the specialist speakers had all the answers.

The live programme of features continued at the Legends Theatre, presented by British Marine, with Sky Sports Presenter, Alec Wilkinson on hand to deliver a terrific programme to a continually packed audience. Heroes across the sailing world who appeared on stage included Mike Golding, Dee Caffari, Alex Thompson, who also collected the prestigious YJA Yachtsman of the Year award at the Show, and a joint appearance by female sailing icons Tracy Edwards MBE and Sam Davies. YouTube stars, Sailing La Vagabonde, were also a star attraction. A key moment on the stage included honouring future talent with the announcement of the Superyacht UK Young Designer competition winner, in partnership with Pendennis Shipyard and Olesinski; the competition has proved fascinating to watch across the first two days of the event.

HRH The Princess Royal gave the Show a regal feel on the opening day as she toured the event and presented Hannah Stodel with the celebrated RYA Yachtmaster of the Year award. Footballing hero, Sir Geoff Hurst and BT Sports Presenter, Jake Humphrey,officially opened the Sunseeker International stand and were joined by the prestigious Jules Rimet Trophy. Other famous faces included former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Red Bull Team Principle, Christian Horner and TV stars Lorraine Kelly, Nick Knowles and James Martin. Political figures, the Rt Hon. Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairburn received a detailed insight into the strength of the leisure marine industry.

The success of the Show has been reflected in the significant interest it has received from several companies not exhibiting at this year’s event but wanting a presence at the 2019 Show. These include Mastercraft Boats, who wants to now exhibit at both the London and TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Shows. This year’s exhibitors already confirming include Swallow Boats, Bayliner, Cobra Ribs, Compass Marine, Go Earth, Nfun Yachting UK, Elite Sailing, GB Helicopters, Sailing Holidays, Arba Nautika, The SUP Company. Hobo Yachting, Rockley Watersports, Banks Martin, Topper, Morton Boats, Ullman Sails, Boatylicious, TingdeneMarina and more. Zodiac, who has had a presence at the Show each year, has already indicated that it will be taking its own stand to increase its presence.

Howard Pridding, British Marine CEO, comments: “The 2018 London Boat Show has provided an essential platform to showcase the very best of the marine industry to a global audience. We’re delighted that the changes we have implemented have been such a success. Offering a new five-day format has allowed us to attract more new and first-time exhibitors than ever before.

“The atmosphere has been vibrant, and our new attractions gave everyone the chance to experience and interact with the Show. With an average daily attendance of just over 10,000 we’ve enjoyed more concentrated crowds of visitors at the Show than we’ve experienced for many years, particularly on the very busy Saturday.”

Howard concludes: “With the latest industry figures demonstrating a sixth continuous year of growth within the sector, this year’s Show has continued along that terrific vein. We pay tribute to and thank our exhibitors who were the stars of the Show.”

The 2019 London Boat Show will take place from Wednesday 9 – Sunday 13 January 2019.

Exhibitor quotes 

John Arnold, UK Sales Manager at Torqeedo said: “This year’s London Boat Show has far surpassed our expectations. With a brand-new layout, I’m delighted to report we’ve experienced an impressive number of sales, leads and interest across all our products – our stand has been constantly busy. The show acted as the UK debut for the Torqeedo Deep Blue inboard and our new 48v battery, and they’ve both been a hit with many new and current customers. Overall, it’s been a fantastic five-day show for Torqeedo and we’re really happy with the new format – it’s definitely a change for the better.”

Dan Arscott, Sales Manager at Grand commented: “This was our first London Boat Show for Grand and we are delighted with how the Show has gone. We’ve sold at least a dozen boats over the course of the past five days. The Show presentation has been fantastic and far exceeded our expectations. We are currently in talks with the British Marine Sales Team to double the size of our stand for the 2019 Show.”

Sales Director at Sunseeker International, Sean Robertson, commented: “It has been a highly successful start to the year for Sunseeker at London Boat Show with an unprecedented amount of visitors to the stand and strong sales.

“At this year’s show, we announced a significant double-digit growth forecast in revenue and volume for the overall year in 2017. The market reaction to our four compelling new products in 2017 has been particularly strong and has created a robust platform for future profitable growth.”

James Foot, UK Marketing Manager at Sunsail UK commented: “The 2018 London Boat Show has been a great success for Sunsail, and we’ve welcomed an impressive number of new and existing customers to the stand. It has provided the perfect platform for us to connect with visitors, network with industry contacts and showcase Sunsail’s latest holiday destinations.

“We have found the new format has worked very well, giving the show a fantastic new lease of life and bringing back the buzz. In particular, we have noticed a much higher concentration of people at the Show on WednesdayThursday and Friday than in previous years. We’ve had great feedback from visitors, who have expressed a significant level of interest in destinations such as Croatia, the Seychelles and the British Virgin Islands, which is making a tremendous comeback since we reopened our base on the 9 December. It’s fantastic to note that our customers are looking for adventurous new holiday options and are keen to travel further afield and we look forward to a very exciting year ahead.”

Mike Dovey, UK distributor for Malibu Boats comments: “We have had a superb London Boat Show; the weekend days were particularly good for us. The Show has been very well organised, and the footfall has been incredible. We have taken significantly more sales than the last time we exhibited and are pleased to report our highest ever sales at any boat Show. Having not attended the London Show for five years, this has been a very welcome return and it has kicked off a very exciting year for us.”

Ian Cooke, MD at Onward Trading said: “Returning to the London Boat Show in 2018 has proven to be a great move for Onward Trading. We have been very busy over all five days and achieved an all-time record day for sales on the Saturday. With this number of visitors enjoying the Show, we need to ‘up our game’ for the 2019 Show!”

Emma Maule, Sales and Marketing Coordinator for Navionics said: “The 2018 London Boat Show has been a fantastic event for us and we love the new five-day format. We have seen as many customers over the five days as we did when the Show ran for ten, without incurring the additional overheads such as accommodation costs. There has been a constant buzz throughout the event, great enthusiasm from exhibitors and a fantastic footfall.”

Paul Clark, Manager at Kris Cruisers, said: “We have made a welcome return to the London Boat Show after six years away and we definitely made the right decision. We have enjoyed excellent levels of enquiries across the five days and it’s been great to see so many past customers who have gone on to buy boats. I believe the hire boat market is an ideal way to get into the industry and the Show has offered a great platform to raise awareness of our brand

“The new inland boating feature at the 2018 Show has been a big hit amongst both exhibitors and visitors. The Lock and Waterside Pub in particular have been very popular and provided a great hub to attract interest to the inland boats on show.”

Martin Berman, Director at Go Earth Ltd, said: “The Show was brilliant, exceeding even our most optimistic expectations. The quality of clients was high, and we did great trade at the show itself; plus a high value of follow-on business. As a direct result of the show we expect to represent potential owners with aggregate budgets in excess of £9 million. For us, as a small, niche company, this is a magnificent result and helps to further establish us as the ‘go-to’ company for our services as representing the boat buyer.”

George Cheeseman, Head of Suzuki GB’s Marine Division said, “The Show had a real buzz and it was a great opportunity to meet new and existing customers. It was also the perfect platform for us to launch our new, lightest in class DF100B outboard and our new market-leading retail finance offer.”

Rob Clay, TCS Chandlery said: “Although I was sceptical, the new five-day format introduced for this year appears to have been a success and we are satisfied with the footfall and quality of visitor we have seen.”

Viewers can see the Show’s highlights here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVgDWYXlN5A

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