Brunswick looks to offload Sea Ray

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Image: Mick Fletoridis
Image: Mick Fletoridis

Brunswick says it intends to sell its well-known Sea Ray brand, one of 15 brands that comprise the Brunswick Boat Group.

Brunswick Corporation has put the Sea Ray boat brand up for sale with the expectation that the sale will be completed in the first half of 2018.

"Our marine strategy is focused on developing, manufacturing and distributing market-leading products to recreational and commercial marine consumers through our portfolio of engine, boat and parts and accessories businesses," said Brunswick chairman and CEO, Mark Schwabero.

"This decision was made after careful consideration, and reflects the evolving contribution that the Sea Ray brand has made to our marine portfolio.

"Our remaining brands will continue to be important elements of a robust, balanced marine business, with our boat portfolio serving healthy, expanding market segments."

Schwabero added that Brunswick will continue to "diligently manage" Sea Ray during the sale process to support its dealers and customers. For accounting purposes, Brunswick will report the results of Sea Ray, as well as its Meridian boat brand, as discontinued operations.

Sea Ray was founded in 1959 by Cornelius Nathan Ray III just as boat-building techniques were shifting to fibre-glass construction. The company grew to become one of the most popular boat brands in the US and, in 1986 when it was sold Brunswick Corporation, had annual sales of 28,000 units. According a report on BoatTEST.com, fewer than 2,500 boats were sold in 2016 and the brand had been operating at a loss.

In recent years, the US market has seen a marked shift away from stern-drive models - for which Sea Ray is best-known - towards more powerful outboard driven boats. This trend - which predates the GFC - has seen sales of stern drive models drop by 70-80% according to some estimates.

While the sale process doesn't mean the end of the road for the Sea Ray brand, Brunswick has clearly decided that its future lies in other boating segments.

"We believe that the Sea Ray business, through its leading brand and exciting product line, offers attractive value creation opportunities to a new owner," said Schwabero. "Sea Ray is an iconic brand that is rich with history, with a reputation for craftsmanship, quality and styling.

"Sea Ray's manufacturing facilities are among the most advanced in the marine industry, with talented and dedicated workforces."

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