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Consumer demand spells sales success at 2014 Toronto International Boat Show

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

January 23, 2014                                                                                                                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO – Following on the heels of some of Ontario’s worst-ever winter weather, the 56th Toronto International Boat Show reported good to strong sales for many exhibitors with some falling short of expectations.  The 2014 attendance was 72,289, an 11% decrease over 2013.  The 2013 show was the highest in the previous five years.  More than 550 manufacturers, dealers and marine suppliers sold out more than a million square feet of the Direct Energy Centre at Toronto’s Exhibition Place from January 9 – 19.

Dave Dusome, Regional Sales Manager at Nautic Global Group said that sales of Rinker, Hurricane, Aqua Patio, Godfrey, Sweet Water and San Pan were better than ever.  “We’re up 50 per cent from last year’s show and we’re very pleased. In my opinion, cruisers are on their way back and consumers are willing to pay for bigger units as long as the value is there – which is what we deliver.”

Sales were well beyond the expectations of Les Dawe at CO2 Inflatables. Citing the fact that 10 years ago, ‘people couldn’t spell inflatable,’ Dawe said that year over year, revenues have doubled.  “It was our best show in at least five years, and we’ve actually had more than a 100 per cent increase in units sold at this year’s show.“

The weather and turnout didn’t faze Anchor Yachts’ Mike Green, dealer for Beneteau.  “We had very good quality attendees who came prepared to purchase. Part and parcel of the lower attendance fact is the simple reality that you get to talk to the people who are here longer – and that resulted in us selling three times as many boats this year.”  Green added that he won’t be surprised to sell at least seven more boats coming out of the Show in the next couple of months and confessed to being “very happy!”

Echoing the generally positive mood was Marc Duhamel, General Manager of Legend Boats. “Sure, the weather might have had something to do with attendance but the buyers were definitely here this year.  Our total number of units sold was down maybe 10 per cent, but our dollar volume is well up over 10 per cent. Pontoons were about even, small utility boats were down somewhat, but bigger boats were selling. We’ve had very strong sales since October right through to now and the Show did just what we expected.”

Bill Connor, owner of Stanley Boats, also remarked on the number of Asian buyers interested in his unique welded aluminum marine products. “It’s a very interesting market and we’re seeing more interest from various ethnic groups as well as women – which is something we didn’t really expect,” he said.  Both sales and dollar volume were up at Stanley this year and Connor said there was an emphasis on sales of bigger boats overall.

First-time buyers were also out in full force at this year’s Show, according to Gary Potyok, District Sales Manager, Bombardier Recreational Products.  “Of course, we introduced our new Sea Doo Spark here at the Show, and had all kinds of interest and very strong sales, especially from people who’ve never owned a boat before.  That really added a positive spark to this year’s Boat Show and I also believe it’s adding to the very strong mood in the boating industry.”

Tracey Hart, Director of Marketing, Discover Boating Canada, reported, “More than 1,800 people visited the Discover Boating Centre at the show — a 22 percent increase over last year.”  She added that a visitor to last year’s Discover Boating Centre returned this year after purchasing a new boat and said ‘it was the best decision they ever made as a family’ and thanked the staff at the Centre for helping him get started.

Each year, the Toronto Boat Show provides a series of guided tours, conducted by Charley Zhou, introducing Asian visitors to the world of boating.  More than 200 people turned out for 25 tours over the course of the Show and four went home with a boat – one of whom purchased a 28’ Boston Whaler from Mike Leblanc, Southwinds Marine, who said that business was very brisk in the Whaler booth with sales up more than 25 per cent, making it their best Show sales in five years.

“Overall attendance was below expectations, despite the show delivering unprecedented advertising and publicity.  While weather was a contributing factor to the decrease, we’re also sensitive that some product categories did not have the results forecasted.  We will be reviewing together with exhibitors in order to understand if changes need to be made in the future.  We are thrilled that so many boat brands and accessories had increased sales, despite the attendance decline,” said Cynthia Hare, Show Manager.

The Toronto International Boat Show is owned and produced by Canadian Boat Shows Inc. In generating more than $354 million in economic impact to the region, it remains one of the largest consumer boat shows in North America.  Dates for the 2015 Toronto International Boat Show are January 10 – 18, 2015.  Special Preview Night will be Friday, January 9.

About 35% of Canadians (9.4 million people) participate in boating and Canadians own more than 4.3 million boats. The core industry of 4,400 companies generated revenues of $8.9 billion in 2012, directly employed 40,000 people, and the total economic contribution to Canadian GDP was about $5 billion and 67,000 total jobs. (NMMA Canada – The Economic Impact of Recreational Boating In Canada; 2012.)

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MEDIA CONTACT:
David T. Holmes – 416-628-5605
dholmes@holmespr.com