INSEE provides encouraging figures for the French boating industry


Sales volume of pleasure boats, place in Europe, distribution of activity... INSEE presents its figures on the 2015 activity of the nautical industry, with some surprises and encouraging dynamics.

A very Atlantic nautical job

In both France and Europe, pleasure craft production accounted for 40% of shipbuilding in 2015. The latter takes into account, in addition to pleasure craft, passenger ships and other cruise ships, oil tankers, fishing vessels, container ships and other cargo ships.

120 companies are listed in France by INSEE as producers of pleasure boats. Among them, the 6 largest companies account for 80% of billings. The west of France is the main employment area for boating, two thirds of companies and almost 90% of jobs are located on the Atlantic coast between Brittany and the Spanish border. The Pays de la Loire region is predominant, with 3 800 people, followed by the New Aquitaine region with 1 900 people, 600 people being employed in the Brittany region.

Sailing in pole position

The French boating industry accounted for 13% of the European production of pleasure boats in 2015, with 873 million euros of invoicing. While motorboats dominate in Europe, France stands out thanks to its specialisation in sailing boats, which represent 66% of French production (573 million euros). Motor boats account for only 27% (239 million euros) and other pleasure boats (inflatable boats, outboard boats, rowing boats...) for 7% (62 million euros).

In the EU, the total output of the boating industry is ?6.9 billion, of which 66% is motorboats, 25% sailboats and less than 10% beach gear and tyres. Although France is the leader in the sailing sector, with 34% of European production, it produces less than 5% of the value in the motorboat niche, largely dominated by Italy, Germany and the Netherlands which together represent 80% of the market. It should be noted that the big yacht, and the superyacht, very present in these countries and not in France, counts for a lot in this figure.

A stronger recovery in France

Over the period 2010 - 2015, French production of pleasure boats increased by 8% in volume. Growth was 20% over 2014 and 2015. The French results are good, in comparison with the European neighbours who have not generally benefited from the same recovery with stagnation since 2012. The European trend over the period 2010-2015 is negative with a decrease of 18%. France's share of the European nautical industry has risen from 10% to 13%.

An exporting boating industry

The export figures include second-hand boats, which reinforce their importance. French exports thus exceed new annual production by around 10%. At European level, it accounts for 90% of production.

Imports represent only 24% of French production and 35% for the EU, which shows the importance of French yards in the tricolour leisure fleet.

French exports account for 16% of EU exports, at a level corresponding to its production. 58% of French exports are destined for Europe and the Mediterranean region. Next come America and the Caribbean, for 29% and Asia Pacific for 12%.

The repair is going well

Maintenance and repair are essential in yachting. In 2015, the volume of maintenance activity amounted to 322 million euros for France, or slightly more than a third of production activities. At European level, the figure reaches 1.5 billion euros.

Since 2010, yacht maintenance and repair activities have increased in volume by 22% in French yards, an average rate of 3.8% per year. Within the European Union, they have grown a little slower, growing by 16%.

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