ITALY | 2021 MARKET UPDATE
What a difference a year makes, and what a year. The Italian marine industry, Europe’s first major boating market to feel the negative impact of Covid in 2020, has been one of the big winners as time revealed a major upside for the leisure marine industry from a pandemic that forced people to seek out safe spaces, while poignantly reminding them that life was for living.
In mid-July, Stefano Pagani of Italian nautical association, Confindustria Nautica, confirmed, following the association’s AGM at the end of June, that confidence was at an all-time high among the majority of industry sectors. Though the figures are not yet official – those will be revealed at the Genoa Boat Show in September – 40% of those members canvassed from across the boat and yacht manufacturers – were predicting strong turnover growth of over 20% for the year ending August 31, 2021. Another 30% expected healthy turnover growth somewhere between 10-20%, while 24% reckoned on decent growth below 10%. Just 3% predicted a decrease in turnover.
“If you think about what’s happened last year in Italy, our industry lost two months because of the manufacturing shut-downs, but we will see no decrease for the year overall – so the result will be on par with 2019 – so in the other 10 months our builders and manufacturers were strong, so this is really good news.”
The dealer network tells a more nuanced picture, mainly down to supply. 66% saw stable turnover for the period August 2020-21, with 17% expecting a modest decrease (less than 5%), while the same number are predicting bigger losses from -5% to -15%.
“Last year all the yachts and boats in the Italian market were sold,” explains Pagani. “Though people wanted to come back to boating, all the available boats in the market, even the second-hand ones, were sold. So obviously the situation cannot be better than last year because dealers cannot sell boats that they do not own. If they were able, they would sell more than what they are selling today, but the market is stable.”
Equipment and engines builders are enjoying strong sales too, says Pagani. “Especially for the outboard engine segment; not only has there been an increase in sales of new boats with outboards, but Italian boaters have been looking to update old outboards too. If we look at the situation for all the services… so marinas, charter and all the related services for boaters, the situation is radically changed today with respect to last year. They are all at peak, nobody thinks that the turnover will decrease.”
The overall picture however bodes well for the Genoa boat show in September. “The show is sold out, there is no more space for boats” confirms Pagani, adding that this year’s safety protocols are likely be the same as was used in 2020’s edition, though Pagani hopes the allowed visitor numbers (10,000-12,000/day) may be allowed to be higher, depending on how the Covid situation develops.
In terms of challenges, Pagani notes that CN members would like to increase production to meet demand, however supply issues are hindering those ambitions. “I hope that the situation will be better in the next month, but for the current season, I think that they will not have the possibility to increase the volume. Hopefully the situation will better, but not at this moment.”
Pagani also notes the hurdle currently faced by the luxury charter segment through the Med, because of restrictions on international travel. “It’s difficult for an American person or somebody coming from Asia to get to Italy to go on a charter, whether it’s a superyacht or other kind of yacht. But I think that general situation is really, really good. Our superyacht builders are happy. They all have orders for the next two or three years.”