ARE THE AMERICANS BACK IN BUSINESS?
As FLIBS 2014 draws to a close the feeling among much of the industry in attendance is that, as encapsulated by Atlass Insurance's Senior Vice President, Scott Stamper, "the Americans are back!"
Stamper's team has insured three projects signed in and around the show between $27 million and $105 million. And whereas last year his clients were mainly comprised of Russian, Ukrainian and Central American nationals, "at the show and in recent months, we've been working with a lot more American clients". "It feels nice being an equal opportunities provider again," he joked of the U.S. resurgence.
Likewise, ISA Yachts' Francesca Fennucci says the vibrant level of interest around in-build Route 66 at the show has been a welcome surprise. She added that this year's event has served as a powerful reminder of how important the American market is to the rest of the industry, and how a presence there is a necessity, which it perhaps hasn't been in recent years.
It is also fair to say that activity in and around the custom realm is invariably a sign of a healthy market. And if the feedback of the SYBAss members translates into sales in the coming months, that will certainly be the case. There is a tangible sense that the sustained US recovery is bringing buyers to the Fort Lauderdale docks.
However, the new build numbers are still down year on year and the quality of some of the vessels on display at FLIBS this year, suggest owners are less inclined to invest endlessly in their vessels. It may be that prices have been forced down so much that sellers are no longer prepared to do anything necessary to force a sale. The result of this is a market where quality counts for everything and a more discerning buyer profile is demanding more from the industry. In a roundabout way this should be perceived as a good thing and the onus is on the industry to entice, and effectively sell to the rising number of Fort Lauderdale visitors.
Article Author: William Mathieson