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UK Marine Supply Chain Conference Creates New Business Opportunities

Ninety delegates attended a two day Marine Supply Chain Conference on 20/21 March which brought the leisure and commercial marine industries together to encourage new business opportunities.  This very successful event was organised by the British Marine Federation (BMF) with support from the Technology Strategy Board. 

14 buyers from the UK’s leading leisure and small commercial boatbuilding companies took the opportunity to meet with 50 UK suppliers from marine, automotive and motorsport equipment companies and a number of Government support agencies, including the Transport KTN.  

Companies participating as buyers were:
  • Sunseeker International,
  • Oyster Marine,
  • Princess Yachts,
  • Fairline Boats,
  • RNLI,
  • Gunfleet Marine,
  • Rustler Yachts and
  • Discovery Yachts
From commercial marine:
  • Goodchild Marine Services,
  • Mustang Marine,
  • Buckie Shipyard,
  • Holyhead Marine Services,
  • Marine Specialised Technology and
  • Griffon Hoverwork. 

The inaugural conference, which is part of an ongoing initiative to support marine manufacturing companies, took place from 20-21 March 2012 in Daventry.  Delegates benefited from excellent networking opportunities as well as the chance to take part in the first UK only ‘Meet the Buyer’ event.  

Business meetings

The boatbuilders held over 220 business meetings with existing and potential suppliers which provided a highly cost effective forum for doing business, giving both large and small suppliers the chance to speak directly with influential individuals in a professional and relaxed environment.  There was good cross-sector participation at the event with several automotive and motorsport manufacturing, engineering and training service suppliers alongside the marine supply chain. 

Seminar programme

Enhancing the two day event, a range of speakers participated in the parallel seminar programme to show how UK boatbuilders and their suppliers can work more effectively together.  They represented organisations that can provide support to these businesses, whether large and small, including

  • the Technology Strategy Board, the main sponsor of the event,
  • SEMTA, the industry’s Sector Skills Council,
  • the Manufacturing Advisory Service and the
  • Transport Knowledge Transfer Network and
  • Materials Knowledge Transfer Networks

There were presentations on supply chain development from Mike Goatley of ZF Services UK, who cover all transport sectors, and Mike Chalkley of Griffon Hoverwork.  For automotive, Greg Dixon-Smith of the Morgan Motor Company described their recreation of the Morgan Three Wheeler which has proved an instant success as a niche vehicle that has synergy with luxury marine craft whereby purchase is discretionary and so appeals to those seeking bespoke individuality, craftsmanship and lifestyle fun.  This new car using Morgan’s existing and some new suppliers was also generating significant export business which is another area where high quality UK brands in both automotive and marine products excel.

David Elson, the BMF’s Technical Director said:

“We are pleased to have brought together such a large group of very influential people to meet, network and discuss business opportunities.  Organising such networking events is a vital part of our role and one of the membership benefits, as is our Supply Chain initiative which is an important part of the work that the BMF is doing to focus support on the Marine Manufacturing Sector.  We have received very positive feedback on our first Marine Supply Chain Conference.  This opportunity proved to have been very successful for both the boatbuilders and equipment suppliers from the various sectors who participated.” 

Following the success of this inaugural supply chain conference the BMF is seeking the views of members and others with a questionnaire about priorities for developing the initiative, with emphasis on supporting the predominantly SME marine supply chain and helping them and the major UK boatbuilders to compete more successfully through collaboration and by drawing on the knowledge and capability in other UK engineering sectors. 

The feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive, and further information including speaker presentations can be found on the BMF website.

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