Yachting Art Magazine

The good end of the nautical season cushioned the shock for the Bénéteau Group

The world's number two in leisure boating industry took advantage of its position as a multi-specialist to offset part of the sharp decline in certain markets, such as the rental market, by growth in other very dynamic segments, particularly the outboard boat market. 

Bénéteau has just published interim financial information as of August 31, following the Group's decision to change the closing date of its fiscal year from the end of the nautical season to December 31.

The good news of this publication comes from the very structure of the French Group's offer, which by being multi-specialist - a broad and deep offer in both sailing and motor boats, from 14 to 80 feet - has been able to cushion part of the shock of the downturn in the tourism market, and particularly in the rental of sailboats and catamarans, thanks in large part to the dynamism of the market for outboard boats and motorboats up to 45 feet.

At August 31, Groupe Bénéteau's revenues (leisure boating and housing), at €1149.3 million, were down 14%, with ebitda of €110.4 million (9.6% of revenues), for a net cash position of €155.6 million (+€58.6 million over 1 year) and income from recurring operations of €30 million at 2.6% of revenues. Initially, Groupe Bénéteau expected a fall in activity of between -16% and -18%.

For the French group, "the effects of the crisis on the last four months of 2020 remain significant, however, with activity over this period expected to be 25 to 30% lower than last year".

In the current context and following the launch of its strategic plan on July 9, the Bénéteau Group has implemented a whole series of measures aimed in particular at adapting its production capacities and overheads to current market volumes, with the aim of reducing its costs by €45 to 65 million over a full year.

Numerous projects in progress

Among the changes underway, the Group has decided to focus on 8 strong brands (Bénéteau, Jeanneau, Prestige, Lagoon, Excess, Wellcraft, Four Winns and Delphia), covering as many market segments as before with 12 brands (CNB, Monte Carlo Yachts, Scarab, Glastron). These brands are now grouped together in a Brand House, whose terminology is full of meaning.

This rationalization of the product offer, which aims to eliminate duplications and clearly differentiate each brand from the other, as in the automotive sector, would have enabled the Group to reduce its investments by 30% in 2020 compared to 2019 (-26 million euros), while maintaining a strong activity in the creation of new models.

Indeed, the French group launched 18 new models this year.

Among the very promising segments in which the Bénéteau Group is active, small outboard motor catamarans (around 8 to 12m) or electrically-powered boats for lakes and rivers seem to have a bright future.

This specialization of the Bénéteau Group's boat brands will have its industrial corollary, with greater specialization of production units by type and size of boat, as their time to market is set to accelerate significantly.

A decline in activity expected at the end of the year

The Group's activity in the last quarter of 2020 is expected to be down 25 to 30% compared to the same period in 2019, mainly due to the significant decline in rental activity and billings in the Housing division.

Given the strong seasonality of its activities, the Group's EBITDA and OIR over the September/December period are traditionally negative. Therefore, the pro forma elements for the period September/December 2019 showed an EBITDA of EUR -8.1 million and an OIR of EUR -35.3 million for revenues of EUR 247.8 million.

Non-current items related to the "Let's Go Beyond! "plan and industrial adaptation measures will be booked at the end of December 2020. They are estimated at this stage at between €75 and €90 million and include both the asset write-downs arising from the "Let's Go Beyond!" strategic plan and the industrial adaptation measures. "strategic plan and the costs of adapting production capacities and structure costs to the expected evolution of the post-Covid-19 markets.

The Boat Division adjusted its production capacities in all countries to respond to the evolution of its markets. This resulted in the gradual phasing out, closure or disposal of five sites, the transfer of production to other sites and the use of partial operations in France and Italy.

A necessary adaptation to the cancellation of boat shows

To cope with the cancellation of most of the fall trade shows, new innovative initiatives were taken by all the brands: the organization of events, private tests and exclusive days in France (Cannes-Mandelieu, La Rochelle, Les Sables d'Olonne) and abroad (Monaco, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, United States). The Group is also preparing the opening of virtual trade shows (December 10-12) and the creation of new digital formats that are more immersive and interactive.

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