By Fernanda Velloso
The mood at the Rio Boat Show, which drew to a close on April 15th after a seven-day run, reflected the recent downturn in the Brazilian market. Held at Marina da Gloria, in the Guanabara Bay, this year’s show featured nearly 100 exhibitors with 67 boats displayed on water and a further 120 indoors, but buyers were in cautious mood. Nautica press, the Brazilian media partner of the show, has reported that 34,000 people visited the show, and that R$193m (US$85.9m) in transactions were made at the show. The figure is slightly down compared to the 130 exhibitors, 40,000 visitors, and R$276m (US$ 122.8m) in sales at last year’s show.
Brazil has been struggling to keep pace with the economic growth it’s enjoyed over the past decade whilst steady inflationary pressures have hit consumers, a double whammy that is beginning to take its toll.
In contrast to recent years marine businesses are finding that it’s getting more difficult to attract customers in 2014. Rio Boat Show organizer Ernani Parcionik explains: “When the country is going well, events like this also go well, because nautical events are directly linked to the country’s economy.”
According to William Gress, president of Mercury Marine in Brazil, the leisure marine market in Brazil is going through a challenging time.“The Brazilian market this year will suffer for three clear reasons: currency instability, the World Cup – that is a major public distraction, and the October presidential election.”
Jose Galizio Neto, CEO of Intech Boating, the manufacturer of the Italian brand Sessa Marine, concurs: “Many companies are going through a period of fiscal adaptation in what is a highly competitive market. They are trying to come to terms with this new market scenario whilst building up strategies for the medium and long term.”
However, Neto points out that Brazil still has a number of advantages and production opportunities over Europe and the US, therefore “Brazil can become a powerful export partner”, he says.
Marcio Schaefer, president of Schaefer Yachts, agrees. He explains that domestic tax regulation for the marine segment puts a heavy load on manufacturers however the Brazilian marine industry remains competitive. “Companies have updated technology, good quality and skilled labour, but government regulations don’t help. Given our advantages we could be a great exporter country,” he says.
It is unanimous among the biggest players in the industry that skilled labour is now difficult to find and all companies have developed in-house training for their own people to meet new production demands. Intech Boating, for example, has a strategy in place to train less skilled employees. The result is less employee turnover and better work conditions and wages.
Paulo Renha, owner of Real Power Boats says that “there is a continuous education program to improve the workforce in our company”.
ACOBAR, the Brazilian association of boatbuilders, has been working to assist boatyards to boost sales and strengthen the industry. During the last São Paulo Boat Show, ACOBAR launched its “Venha Navegar” campaign, similar to Grow Boating in the US.