Downturn worsens


French boat-builder Beneteau is in talks with staff about the company’s outlook amid a sharp downturn which is depressing orders across the industry.

A Beneteau spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday the company was assessing the outlook for next year with staff and worker representatives, after a newspaper report that the company would cut hundreds of jobs as the credit crunch squeezes demand.Some say the industry needs mergers to survive, according to Reuters.

‘The crisis is worsening in the world of pleasure boats,’ said CM-CIC Securities analyst Francis Pretre. ‘The sector landscape will undeniably change in the coming months with the likely disappearance of some major players. The sector is bound to consolidate.’

Le Figaro newspaper said the Beneteau and Jeanneau brands plan to cut up to a fifth of its almost 4,000 shipyard employees following a 50 percent drop in its order book since January.

Boat companies are struggling as customers delay purchases, leaving them saddled with high operating costs and unsold yachts.

Beneteau predicted two months ago that the pleasure cruising market could drop by over 40 percent without any improvement in the spring. The company said it expected group sales to be down 30 to 40 percent in its fiscal year ending Aug. 31.