Closure of the Bénéteau de Marion plant
Created in 1987, the Bénéteau Group's boat building site in Marion, South Carolina, will close its doors before the end of 2020. "It's a difficult decision for a historic site in an American state that is not necessarily the most dynamic in terms of jobs. The plant was built in one year between 1986 and 1987 in a region that was untouched by any other boating area to serve the development of Bénéteau sailing boats in the United States. Production will be gradually reduced from mid-September 2020 until the site is mothballed at the end of November," explains Mirna Cieniewicz, head of communications for the Bénéteau Group.
Follow the US yachting market
Formalized following negotiations with the social partners on July 9 and the presentation of the group's strategic plan, Let's Go Beyond, the decision is the conjunction of 2 phenomena. "For the past ten years or so, the demand for monohull yachts has been falling in the United States. The trend has been exacerbated by the economic crisis linked to the Covid-19. The short and medium term outlook does not allow us to anticipate a change", Mirna Cieniewicz explains. The Marion plant used to produce between 60 and 70% of the Bénéteau and Jeanneau sailboats sold in the United States. They will now be imported from Europe. Of the 180 employees at the site, only a small team will be maintained to manage spare parts.
The group also insists on the term "lay-up", with the vessels remaining the property of the shipbuilder. "At the end of the crisis, decisions on the future of the Marion site may be re-evaluated," confirms the head of communications.
Negotiations underway at all Bénéteau's European sites
If U.S. labor law allows for a faster schedule, more announcements may follow. Management confirms that comparable dialogue with the social partners will be held for all sites in Europe. "Depending on the country and site, the full range of possibilities is being explored, from short-time working to internal mobility and layoffs. The input data has yet to be validated on the decline in activity, in view of the figures for the start of the September school year," says Mirna Cieniewicz.