GE Capital forecasts accelerated industry growth

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GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance business said in a recent report that after a slow start resulting from a harsh winter and a cold spring, the recreational marine industry is showing accelerated growth.

Retail and wholesale sales are up from a year earlier in the United States and the industry is on track to reach the 8 percent growth in retail dollar sales that CDF originally forecast in February at the Miami International Boat Show.

“We finance more than 2,000 dealers in our marine business and we see them moving a lot of product at the retail level,” Commercial Distribution Finance marine group president Bruce Van Wagoner said in a Monitor Daily report. “We have no reason to think the industry won’t hit or even exceed 8 percent growth this year.”

Through June, CDF said, retail boat sales were up 4.8 percent, excluding personal watercraft, and up 9.5 percent, including PWC, according to early reporting data from Statistical Surveys.

For this same time period, wholesale financing volume at CDF is up 13 percent, dealer inventory turnover is over two times, and aging rates, reflecting inventory more than a year old, are down 2 percent.

“These strong inventory turns and low level of aged inventory are the best we’ve seen in 20 years,”CDF marine group vice president of manufacturer relations Ed Bragg said in the report. “This data underscores the broader health of the marketplace and also shows the disciplined, prudent business practices which provide a good foundation for further growth.”

“The marine industry can obviously benefit even further if the economy accelerates, but it also has to be prepared for every economic scenario,”Van Wagoner noted. “Both manufacturers and dealers have done an excellent job of riding out the ebbs and flows of the economy in recent years, and today the industry is again vibrant.”

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Overall boat sales in March were slightly lower compared to last year and year-over-year growth was down by just over 1 percent, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., data that was gathered for 30 states.