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MarineMax confident Sea Ray brand will sell as single entity

As consumers contemplate the brand’s fate, sales of larger models like this L650 Fly have slowed, according to MarineMax CEO

As consumers contemplate the brand’s fate, sales of larger models like this L650 Fly have slowed, according to MarineMax CEO

Sea Ray’s largest retailer is confident that Brunswick Corp. understands how important keeping the brand together is to Sea Ray’s legacy and success.

MarineMax CEO Bill McGill, during a conference call discussing second-quarter earnings, was asked by an analyst whether the retail chain had a backup plan in case Sea Ray’s new owner decides to shrink its vast product range.

“Our portfolio is not, the majority is not Sea Ray,” McGill told investors and analysts on Thursday. “It’s not the big percentage it used to be a bunch of years ago.”

“We’ve got assurances that Brunswick understands the importance of the legacy and the fact that the Sea Ray brand is not one to really be broken up because it could destroy the Sea Ray brand,” McGill said. “To grow our customers from 19 feet through 65 feet is still the right strategy for the brand, and so, we are confident that Brunswick will do the right thing for the brand, and take care of us and the other independent dealers as well.”

Brunswick announced its intention to sell Sea Ray in December, implying it had operated at a loss for nearly a year, and later saying the company expects to take a $40 million loss on the transaction. The company said it had a “robust response” to the announcement, and expects the sale to complete in the first half of the year, but has not named a buyer.

The lack of resolution has resulted in lagging sales of larger Sea Rays for the MarineMax chain, which has 50-plus locations nationwide, McGill responded when asked if buyers are showing “angst” around the brand.

“Especially in the larger product we’ve seen some delay, is the way I would state it,” McGill said. “If you’re going to buy a boat for $1, $2, or $3 million, and the company’s up for sale and it hasn’t been announced who the new owner is going to be and there’s some uncertainty around it, it can cause some angst, to use your word.”

The company is not experiencing softness in the smaller Sea Rays, McGill said.

“For sure, once this thing gets announced and we’re heading down a good path with it, I think the customers will feel comfortable and pull the trigger,” McGill said. “But it has definitely impacted our larger Sea Ray boat business.”

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