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Brunswick signals shift with Bayliner strategy

Bayliner Boats will stop building and selling cruisers in the United States as part of an effort to keep pace with fluctuating global trends and consumer demand, according to Brunswick.

Bayliner will instead pursue new categories in the United States and Europe, including a new jetboat line and an “affordable boating” line called “Element,” according to Brunswick.

The brand plans to enter the jetboat segment in 2013, Brunswick Corp. spokesman Daniel Kubera told Soundings Trade Only.

There were no further details regarding Element, touted as Bayliner’s newest concept in affordable boating.

Bayliner cruisers will be produced only in Brunswick’s newly constructed Brazil plant by the end of 2012 and will be exclusively sold in that region. Bayliner’s cruiser line consists of six models from 24 to 33 feet.

"Brazil and its expanding boat market offer us attractive opportunities for growth," Kubera told Trade Only. "Additionally, Bayliner is establishing a strong presence [there] for its models in several categories, including cruisers."

The move comes as Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan company that tracks boat sales, released its most recent data showing that August sales of fiberglass cruisers in the 31- to 40-foot segment declined 28.8 percent year over year and tracked a 6.7 percent dip for the year.

The Knoxville, Tenn., plant at which Bayliner and Sea Ray cruisers have been built will be closed within the next month and a half, before 2013, where 225 full-time workers are employed.

“Will all those people lose a job? We don’t know at this point,” Kubera said. “Some of the production is going to go down the road to Vonore, Tenn., and Palm Coast, Fla., so there’s a possibility that some would have the opportunity to transfer to one of the other facilities if they were so inclined.”

There are two models, Sea Ray’s 330 Sundancer and 370 Sundancer, that were being produced in Knoxville and will be transferred to Palm Coast, Fla., Kubera said.

Four additional models — 240, 260, 280 and 310 Sundancers — that also were being produced at the Knoxville plant will now be produced in Vonore, Kubera said.

When asked about Bayliner dealer feedback regarding the news, Kubera said dealers got the news along with everyone else. “With major developments in the company, we inform public and dealers at the same time,” he said.

Read more about the Brunswick Boat Group’s repositioning in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.

— Reagan Haynes

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