Multi-million dollar superyacht market buoyed by Brexit

Luxury British yacht makers cracked open a bottle of champagne and toasted to a booming market at the 2017 London Boat Show.

The annual event provides a porthole view into the extravagant lifestyle of billionaires and their not-so-small toys. Six months since the Brexit vote, it's only been getting bigger and better.

Sales in the UK leisure boat industry have risen to the highest since the financial crisis, and it's getting a further boost from the post-Brexit fall in the pound. Figures released by the industry body British Marine show report a 1.6 per cent rise in the leisure marine sector to £3.01 billion ($4.9 billion) in the year to April 2016, which is the highest since 2009.

Bang for buck

With the sterling's slump, wealthy foreigners are now enjoying more bang for their buck, reversing what could have become a slowdown in the industry due to uncertainty after the Brexit vote.

On display were nearly 400 vessels; the largest and most expensive boat at the show belonged to Sunseeker, the British-based luxury yacht manufacturer owned by China's richest man Wang Jianlin.

There are more and more people who can afford superyachts.

Phil Popham

Its sleek 95 Yacht measures 92 feet with five guest cabins, pleasure-craft crane, and drop-down balcony to take advantage of sea views-starting from £5.9 million.

Its newest model, the Manhattan 66, also made its world debut at the show.

VIP experience

Designed to maximise entertainment, with the galley on the main deck and an open-concept layout, it boasts a panoramic V-shaped hull and massive saloon windows that fill living areas with natural light. A reconfigured flybridge helps maximise the 66-foot craft's sense of spaciousness, and a so-called "beach club" off the stern's large transom comes with optional wet-bar, rain shower, and barbecue set.

New in this smaller size range, a forward VIP suite and master cabin with private stairway access from the saloon. All in all, the Manhattan 66 sleeps eight guests with two crew. It has a range of 250 nautical miles with 32 knot top speed.


Rising demand

"Generally the world is becoming a wealthier place, so there are more and more people who can afford superyachts," Sunseeker CEO Phil Popham said in an interview last week; retail sales are up 41 per cent in 2016 than a year earlier. The company exports 98 percent of sales and plans to introduce four new models this year.

Exports make up 29 per cent of the UK's £605 million pound yachting industry, with the key market being the Eurozone, accounting for 44.6 percent, according to British Marine figures.

There are other promising global drivers to growth if the current macro trends continue, such as tapping demand from the Chinese and North American markets. Rising oil prices could translate into higher demand from the Middle East, and the possibility of an easing of Russian sanctions could spur the wealthy to spend.