Wow, go out for an early-morning bike ride and you come home to a seeming explosion in emails, voice mails, and texts. Or at least you do when the news concerns Sea-Doo exiting the sport boat (i.e. jet boat) business.
Yes, as unlikely as it may sound, that’s what BRP announced this morning, less than two weeks from its 2013 dealer meeting. The reason? BRP’s blaming it on the “continued global sales decline in the marine industry, particularly the drop in sales of sport boats since the financial crisis.”
“This is a difficult but necessary decision for BRP,” explained José Boisjoli, president and CEO. “We worked hard to grow our sport boat business through a serious sales decline that began in 2007. But now, we must focus our research and development resources and capital investments in areas of our business that offer greater growth potential.”
Adding to the confusion is that at least one early story seemed to indicate that the brand was also exiting the PWC business. Don’t worry, that’s not the case. BRP appears committed to the Sea-Doo watercraft brand. Apparently they weren’t even doing that bad in the boating market, with decent sales for 2012 and low inventories. The catch, however, is that it sounds like they weren’t really making very much money in the process. Given the company’s success with its ATV line and Can-Am Spyder two-wheels-in-the-front, one-in-the-back motorcycle, at least one theory making the rounds is that the company is simply choosing to concentrate on what contributes best to the bottom line. This line of thinking would make financial sense if persistent rumors that BRP may soon go public turn out to be true.
Boisjoli confirmed that BRP had looked for a buyer for its boat line and Benton, Illinois manufacturing facility, but the effort had thus far proved unsuccessful. ”Consequently, we decided not to resume production of the upcoming model year due to seasonal production planning requirements.”
Like many, I’m sorry to see Sea-Doo exit the jet boat business but the “global sales decline” line concerns me slightly, especially if it gives the impression that the industry is suffering. Yamaha, in fact, is doing very well with their jet boat line. The company currently has the best sellers in both the 21′ and 24′ ranges, beating out many established sterndrive manufacturers. There’s also the news that Sea Ray will soon be offering jet propulsion as a power choice in several runabouts. The PWC industry is also seeing its first real growth in many years.
It’s a tough day for the industry, for sure…but I don’t think it’s indicative of what’s to come.