GE Capital survey shows increased sales optimism

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Nearly 80 percent of marine industry participants expect sales to increase between 5 and 10 percent this year, according to survey results that GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance division released Wednesday.

That’s up from 54 percent who expected growth in that range last year and almost double the 43 percent who held that opinion two years ago.

The industry also sees improvement in terms of employment and capital spending. Eighty-four percent plan to increase the size of their company’s workforce and 78 percent expect their company’s capital spending to be greater than last year.

“The industry continues to grow by offering innovative products at a variety of price points,” Commercial Distribution Finance marine group president Bruce Van Wagoner said in a statement. “As the demand for boats increases, dealers and manufacturers want to ensure they are properly staffed and operational to capitalize on this growth, which we are forecasting to be around 5 to 6 percent in units and 8 to 9 percent in retail sales in the U.S.”

The industry has grown steadily since a dramatic downturn in 2009. Half of survey respondents expect the recovery to continue for the next two to three years; another 28 percent think it will continue for three to four years.

“While the overall industry is still smaller than it was prior to the recession, it is financially stronger today than it has ever been,” Van Wagoner said. “There is plenty of room for further growth, but dealers and manufacturers are committed to growing with sound inventory management and at the pace of the market.”

GE Capital’s survey was conducted at the Industry Leadership Conference, which was held in conjunction with the National Marine Manufacturers Association at the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show on Feb. 11.

The respondents include marine industry manufacturers, dealers and suppliers.

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