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Lean years bring rising tide for yacht sales

AMSTELVEEN _ The rising fortunes of Jan-Pieter Oosting and the falling ones of the Dutch yacht sector are two very related events. Now in its 5th year, the Netherlands’ comatose economy has caused the nation’s boating sector to shrink. That has created a buyers’ market. Holding the key to it is Oosting who runs the Netherlands’ dominant boat trading site and has ambitious expansion plans. Attention foreign shoppers: Dutch deals ahead!

Foreign language versions of YachtFocus.com go online soon. The home site lures 5,000 visitors daily. In the first few months of 2013, visits were up by 30%, postings from individual sellers by 40%. In paper version, YachtFocus is a hefty magazine distributed at boat shows and home-delivered, bundled with De Waterkampioen, the Netherlands’ leading boating magazine since 1927. Online, Oosting lets companies advertise on YachtFocus and gives them software to manage their used boat sales and  administration. YachtFocus staff handle clients’ new boat sales.

Oosting: “I see dealers trying their luck advertising on foreign sites. Until their budgets run out! Do they know those sites at all?” More than 200 companies have a YachtFocus account. “Getting listed on our foreign-language versions costs them nothing extra. And because we create our own foreign language versions, we make sure search engines rank them highly,” says Oosting. Exploiting weak prices and demand at home, he shows foreign buyers the full spectrum of Dutch yachts: new and used, big and small, of any age, type and material. He talked to Y&C about the precarious Dutch boating market and its prospects.

Oosting: “The super-yachts market is already 100% international, of course. We can be proud that our small nation _ thanks to superior craftsmanship and consistent delivery of what was promised _ is the world’s No. 2 super-yacht builder. Last winter, we launched Superboats.nl for international buyers. It features sail and motor yachts _ new and used _ of $1 million and up. They are listed in English, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Hindi, Arabic and German _ languages of the best performing economies.”

Q: How about smaller yachts?

A: “New mid-segment yachts _ vessels of 15 to 24m _ are problematic in the home market. Technically, they’re perfect. But they got pricier and fancier in recent years, just as the Dutch market wanted cheaper. Mid-segment builders are many small companies for which it is a challenge to switch to cheaper, serial construction as financing innovation is increasingly tough. Those builders should also focus on export.”

Q: And the second -hand market?

A: “There, we increasingly see Dutch yachts going abroad. Especially to Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. We also see Dutch motor yachts ending up on French canals. Those sales are starting to make a dent. Dutch brokers need to make a bigger effort to compile a decent portfolio of used yachts. Selling used yachts is not difficult because prices are depressed.”

Q: Will Dutch reliance on foreign markets ease soon?

A: “No, growth will continue to come from abroad. At home we see a ‘graying’ of boaters. And an economic slump that hits hard. Dutch yachts are relatively cheap and well maintained. They come ashore each winter! In the future, Dutch boat builders and brokers will rely heavily on foreign buyers. To anticipate that, we’ll be publishing SuperBoats Holland Guide 2014, an English language coffee table book on the Dutch manufacturing industry. It will be distributed only at the next Cannes, Hamburg and Dusseldorf boat shows.”

Q: How is Dutch boating changing?

A: “We recently acquired Godevaert, a lifestyle glossy for people who enjoy a day on the water, with friends and family. We see growth there. Traditional boaters _ people who tinker with their craft day and night _ are a dying breed. Replacing them are people who like to spend a few hours on the water, but also have other hobbies. It’s the water recreation trend of this decade!”

www.yachtfocus.com

Oosting’s WorldYacht BV glance:

- 2001: Founded as software house

- 2003: YachtFocus.com goes online.

- 2007: YF Magazine bundled with De Waterkampioen

- 2008: YV builds site for Dutch brokers federation.

- 2010: YF mobile launched

- 2011: YF digitizes Dutch boating almanac

- 2012: YF biggest Dutch trade site for boats of €5,000+

 

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