MarineMax touts success of getaway trips

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Although boat shows are still an important part of the company's marketing strategy, MarineMax chairman, president and CEO William McGill Jr. told analysts Tuesday that its getaway trips "are the most powerful [marketing] tool we have."

In a conference call following the release of its first-quarter results, McGill said MarineMax’s focus is on “making the [boat] shows look better and spending less on them.”

The company has no plans to stop exhibiting at shows, but said it has organized more than 1,000 events for its customers in the last few years — ranging from weekend trips to two-week getaways — and many were overbooked or 100 percent full.

It’s the best thing MarineMax can do to get repeat and referral customers, McGill added.

For the first quarter, MarineMax announced a small decline in revenue, but reported a slight increase in same-store sales for the period.

Revenue was $91.8 million for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, compared with $92.2 million for the comparable quarter last year. Same-store sales increased more than 2 percent, compared with an 8 percent decrease in the comparable quarter last year.

The company reported a net loss of $4.2 million for the quarter, or 19 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $4.7 million, or 21 cents a share, for the comparable quarter last year.

“The December quarter was our fifth consecutive quarter of new-boat unit sales growth. During the quarter we produced a modest increase in same-store sales while expanding our gross margins, which resulted in a meaningful improvement in our results on a comparable basis,” McGill said.

On the call with analysts, CFO MIchael McLamb said sales in January were finishing ahead of last year, but MarineMax will need to see growth in key second and third quarters for real growth.

There has been an uptick in sales in boats under 24 feet, he said, and those are generally new buyers, as opposed to repeat customers. MarineMax is also starting to see an uptick in the 25- to 35-foot range, he added.

McGill noted there is a lot more interest in aluminum pontoon boats recently because people are looking for the greatest value for their dollar.

— Beth Rosenberg

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