Growing sales are topic at Marine Retail University

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BROCKTON, Mass. — The Northeast region of the United States mirrors the nation overall in regard to boat segments leading the industry’s recovery, with growth seen in pontoons, aluminum boats and most notably, saltwater fishing boats.

That’s according to GE Capital business solutions manager Charlie Brooks, who addressed about 125 people who are attending Marine Retail University, one of several regional events organized by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Dominion Marine Media.

On a 12-month rolling basis through November, sales of saltwater fishing boats 25 feet and larger grew 27.55 percent in the nation, 25.39 percent in the Northeast and 33.58 percent in Massachusetts, Brooks said.

“Keep in mind when you’re talking to your reps, you’re competing with the rest of the country for that inventory,” Brooks told attendees. “One of the things we keep an eye on is the potential for inventory shortages. Saltwater fishing boats are such a big part of the market up here. That stuff is just flying through the channel, and there really is no inventory left out there to speak of, which really puts pressure on saltwater fish manufacturers.”

After his presentation, Brooks told Trade Only Today that he emphasized the growth in that segment because it is a higher-dollar sector than some of the other areas that are showing strong growth after the Great Recession.

Aging inventory continues to be at historical lows in the nation, Brooks said, with about 14 percent of inventory making it to a year. Fewer than 6 percent of new boats stay on showroom floors for 18 months.

Larger sterndrive and express cruisers carry a “bit more aging than average” in the Northeast, compared with the overall market.

Inventory turns have improved from 1.8 percent in 2010 to 2.09 percent in 2013, Brooks said. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — a measure of cash flow — has increased from 2.97 percent to 5.97 percent in that time period.

“A lot of the damage to balance sheets from the downturn has been repaired,” Brooks said.

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