April 18, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

Swansea boat business thriving during pandemic

BOATS ranging from £5,000 to £500,000 are shifting from the forecourt of a Swansea dealership faster than normal, according to its boss.

Robin Vaughan, the managing director of Cambrian Boats Ltd, said business had picked up better than expected after the country went into lockdown in March.

“We would expect to have 30 or 40 boats here on the forecourt, but we have two,” he said.

“Everything else has sold. We had a couple who bought a boat a couple of weeks ago.

“They’d had four summer holidays cancelled, got the money back, and came and bought a £250,000 boat.”

Mr Vaughan said customers had “stay-cations” in mind and wanted to spend leisure time locally.

The UK is facing a steep recession, significant job losses are announced regularly, and unemployment could rise sharply again when the furlough scheme ends in October.

Trying to find a way forward for the hospitality sector alone is a major challenge. Pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars can reopen indoors in Wales from August 3, providing coronavirus cases continue to fall.

Mr Vaughan said: “There is definitely some badness out there.

“But everyone I know socially who runs their own business in Swansea, from wine merchants to property people, says things are manic.

“It seems surprising, when you see job losses on the TV.

“But people are getting out and spending money.”

Mr Vaughan said he feared the worst when he temporarily closed the business, on Langdon Road, in March.

“We had a very quiet two weeks when lockdown started,” he said.

“But after two weeks I was sat around my dining room table and selling boats.

“It has got busier and busier. We have sold more boats than we would usually at this time of year.”

Mr Vaughan said 60% of the business’s revenue came from new boats, and 40% from second-hand vessels.

The company serves South Wales as well as Swansea, and also does repairs and maintenance. All but one of its eight staff, said Mr Vaughan, were back now from periods on furlough.

Summer is always busier than winter for the business.

“We are aware this isn’t going to last forever,” said Mr Vaughan.

Ben Francis, policy chairman of business group FSB Wales, said firms had experienced a huge amount of upheaval and uncertainty in recent months.

Some businesses, he said, had been able to innovate – for example making personal protective equipment and offering takeaways and delivery options.

But others were feeling much less confident about their future.

Mr Francis said: “That’s why is has been so important to get a strong financial support structure available for as many businesses as possible, as well as a clear path to reopening businesses in Wales alongside well-communicated sectoral guidance, which are just some of the things that FSB Wales has been lobbying the Welsh Government to deliver.”

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