MARINE BUSINESS - AIMEX targets the Middle East


A group of Australian International Marine Export Group (AIMEX) members attended the 6th annual Gulf Boating Conference, Dubai, which looked at the current and future trends in the Gulf Yachting Industry. 

The conference (March 9 to 13) opened with a keynote address from Donald Starkey, a world renowned and award-winning yacht designer now based in Dubai.

According to AIMEX, Starkey mentioned how his business had slowed down in the last 18 months with four major contracts being cancelled due to the GFC, however, he believed that emerging markets such as India were now starting to bear fruit and he was concentrating on these emerging markets.

AIMEX said this also seemed to be a theme from several other speakers who felt that, with the established economies struggling still from the GFC, it was important to look at markets that had been overlooked in the past either due to size, lack of infrastructure or the difficulties in dealing in certain countries.

The two countries that kept being mentioned as places to target were India and South Korea. It was also noted that while Dubai and Kuwait have slowed down, other Emirates are still going strong, such as Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain, AIMEX said.

Erwin Bamps, COO from Gulf Craft, also gave an excellent insight into the situation in the Middle East stating that many thought the GFC would miss the UAE, with most of the businesses ignoring the whole idea of an economy in crisis. According to AIMEX Bamps said that when it did happen, it turned people into desperate sellers thus plummeting prices and creating a lot of fear and uncertainty in the market.

This fear and uncertainty still exists said AIMEX, although it added that Bamps felt there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

“He believed the old way of selling and the old way customers made buying decisions was gone forever. The process now is longer and requires a lot more focus on servicing the customer, adding value and providing solutions,” state the AIMEX press release.

It continued: “The other issue he felt had become very obvious was that buyers do not know what is a good deal in the market. No matter what the offer, due to the lack of confidence in the market, the customers are fearful of any risk and always cautious.”

AIMEX said Bamps explained that customers want more value for money; they want more features, the latest technology, additional services and a very personalised approach. “Now is the time when dealers and the boatbuilders must go beyond the call of duty — it is all about creating trust in the brand ? it is important to understand that a strong brand is nothing without a strong company behind it. It is about a total experience for the company.” Bamps said.

AIMEX said another point raised by Bamps was that the average age of the boat buyer had gone up, with buyers then wanting more comfort and ease of use as opposed to speed and style.

Looking to the future, AIMEX said Bamps felt there was sun on the horizon, but the pie was definitely smaller and would require new strategies and new focus to make sure businesses got their share.

AIMEX said the conference ended with a series of workshops looking at the current market, the trends in manufacturing, and the trends and situation with regard to marina development. The new CEO of Art Marine, Constantinos Constantinou, Andrew Wagner from Al Massaood, and Mike Derrett were also involved in a panel discussion.

AIMEX CEO, MaryAnne Edwards said: “The conference was definitely worthwhile for the AIMEX group who felt this broader understanding was useful going into the second day of the show.

“The networking at the conference was also valuable with key managers from many of the major international boat builders present.

“The strong Australian presence at the conference was also noted with many attendees arranging to visit the Australian pavilion,” said Edwards.

In other news, AIMEX says it has secured five marine industry and export professionals to judge the 2010 Australian Marine Industry Export Awards. The judges will be John Savage, Ken Evans, Peter Ironmonger, Bob Basham and Iain Murray, AM.

Savage managed his family business, J.J.Savage & Sons, for 20 years and has worked in all levels of manufacturing in both fibreglass and aluminium boat plants. AIMEX said he has a strong knowledge and background in marine export, with his company being very successful in exporting to the world for more than 20 years.

Evans, a well-known industry identity was the founder of Western Marine. AIMEX said Evans’ most recent role at Mercury Marine was as Director of Government Liaison & Training Services for Australia, NZ & Pacific, until his retirement early this year. AIMEX said Evans has had many milestones in his Mercury career including involvement with the formation in 1991 of OEDA (Outboard Engine Distributors Association), which represents the outboard industry with Government.

Ironmonger is a Senior Export Adviser to exporters in the marine, automotive and other advanced manufacturing sectors.
Based in Sydney, he is a member of Austrade's Global Marine Industry Network.
AIMEX said Ironmonger has more than 16 years experience assisting Australian exporters from a wide range of industry sectors achieve success in international business.
AIMEX said he has worked with exporters in the Australian marine sector for 10 years, established Austrade's China Marina team in 2003 and was closely involved in the Australian Pavilion at the China International Boat Show and a number of marine related projects while working in China.

AIMEX said Basham established R.W. Basham Pty Ltd in 1968, growing it to be Australia’s leading marine chandlery and accessory wholesaler. He has been a director of the BIA of NSW since 1991 and remains an active participant of industry activities. AIMEX said Basham was honored with Life Membership of the BIA of NSW in 2004 for his outstanding service to the association and the industry.

AIMEX said Murray is CEO and director of the Australian Institute of Export. He represents Australia’s SME sector exporters to the Commonwealth and State Governments and manages a broad range of international trade education programs. AIMEX said Murray was appointed to the Australian Government’s Trade Advisory Council in 2007. He is also Deputy Chairman and Treasurer of the Australian Logistics Council (Australia’s peak logistics body), Treasurer of the European Australian Business Council, Director of Tradegate, and a Director of the Freight Council of NSW. In 2008, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to international business.

AIMEX said judging is conducted across five categories, with award winners being recognised in each category including ‘Most innovative marine industry product or service’, ‘Most environmentally friendly marine industry exported product, service or company’, ‘Marine industry export industry champion’, ‘Best marine industry export performance’ (small, medium and large), and ‘Best marine industry export marketing strategy’.
The aggregate scores from each company for these individual categories will be added together to determine the ‘2010 Marine Industry Exporter of the Year’.

The AIMEX 2010 Marine Industry Export Awards application forms and further information are available online at Applications close on Friday, May 14, 2010.

Photos: AIMEX members at the Gulf Boating Conference, Dubai; Peter Ironmonger; Ken Evans; John Savage; Iain Murray; Bob Basham.