14/05/2009 - 00:00

Pen shortage a major blow to boat dealers

14/05/2009 - 00:00

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WHEN Riviera Marine, one of Australia's largest luxury boat builders, went into receivership last week, it could have been seen as another blow for a struggling sector.

WHEN Riviera Marine, one of Australia's largest luxury boat builders, went into receivership last week, it could have been seen as another blow for a struggling sector.

But local dealers see it differently.

Dealers acknowledge their sales have been hit by the economic slowdown, but say a bigger problem is the lack of mooring facilities.

"Whilst we can get stock, we've got nowhere to park them in Perth, so we're hit by a double whammy here," R Marine Perth dealer principal Brendon Grieve said.

"Our used boat business is always very strong but because of the lack of berths we're having to save any berths that do come up for new products.

"It's very hard to do anything without the facilities."

Martin Box, owner of one of Western Australia's largest boat dealers Martin Box Marine, echoed Mr Grieve's concerns.

"It's a huge issue because people just aren't buying the boats because there's nowhere to put them," Mr Box said.

"We've got new people coming in who are hesitant of ordering a boat unless they can guarantee a pen."

Mr Box said while larger boats were selling well at his dealership, used boat sales over the last year have plunged by 50 per cent.

Mr Box said developing infrastructure to ensure the health of the boating industry should be a priority for the government.

"You need infrastructure coming in all the time on the way through in the future, we need about four 1,000 berth marinas in the pipeline," Mr Box said.

"They need to come online quicker, because that's what's killing us."

The receivers for Gold Coast-based Riviera, Deloitte, released a statement early this week advising employees and suppliers that the company would continue to operate on a business as usual basis.

R Marine's Mr Grieve said he anticipated Deloitte would continue the restructuring that had taken place within Riviera over the past year.

"In the past year, the Riviera group has made lots of changes to streamline the whole operation of the business. They've unfortunately had to lay off staff, as a lot of manufacturers have, but it's now a far more refined ship than it's ever been," he said.

"It's all looking very good, in fact it's probably the best thing that could have happened, the best outcome for the group and the best thing for the continuous distribution of the brand."

"Once they've restructured the financial end of the company, it'll be here for a long time."

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