US-based Malibu Boats recently announced its intent to acquire all of the equity interests of the Malibu Boats licensee in Australia.

The Australian license business is operated by Malibu Boats Pty Ltd. and includes distribution rights in the Australia and New Zealand markets as well as a manufacturing facility in Albury, Australia. The proposed acquisition is expected to close in the first half of fiscal year 2015 subject to conditions.

The local manufacturing facility will remain, and so will its staff, according to Malibu Boats Australia MD Xavier West.

Malibu Boats Australian has been building the boats under license in Albury since 1994.

The company has achieved great success locally and in the US with increased market share since the global financial crisis.

Xavier West told Marine Business, that while the market has been harder since the GFC, the local market has shifted with renewed strength in family boating.

“People are more inclined to spend their money domestically. People aren’t doing the European holiday like they used to do. They’re spending it on family activities and that’s where this segment is perfectly poised. If you look at the type of boat we make, it’s a family day out, it’s not just about skiing and wakeboarding anymore,” said West.

The company has shifted its boat design over the past decade from a traditional ski boat to a more family friendly wake surfing design.

Marine Business sat down at the Sydney Boat Show with Malibu Boats Australia Owner – Xavier West, National Marketing & Dealer Development Manager – David Thorpe and Malibu Boats worldwide CEO – Jack Springer.

Springer told Marine Business about the strengths of operating its Australian facility and ensured the industry it will continue to manufacture in Australia.

“Xavier has always been a very important part of Malibu. One of the strengths is that these boats are built in Australia. One of the questions I get is will you now build them in the US, and the answer is no. There’s a tremendous advantage building them here and selling them to the Australians. I think that’s exemplified in the strong market share. It just doesn’t work to build them in the US and ship them over here and not allow a person to put on it what they want. They’re highly customised boats, “ said Jack Springer.

Xaver West said this is an important recipe for the success of the company and it will continue.

“If you look back at what motivated me to go to the US, it was to provide a product that was better than what was available in Australia, but to have it customisable like an Australian boat. It’s the recipe that’s been a huge success and we don’t want to mess with that. With this brand unification, we want to exemplify this, not water it down,” said West.

Jack Springer said the Australian facility is in a good position to expand on the back of potential growth in the Asian market.

“There may well be a time when all the boats we sell in Asia are manufactured here, not in the United States,” said Springer.

The company is looking to sell into Asian markets such as Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and to a lesser extent, China.

Springer is confident of a buoyant future for the Malibu brand after the unification.

“In the past five years Malbu’s markets hare has grown about 15 per cent worldwide.  The reason is we brought out four times more product than the competition and that will continue,” said Springer.

David Thorpe told Union Wakeboarder website: “We have always been focused on performance, innovation and building a world class boat for our Australian & New Zealand customers, this will never change. This acquisition to me simply means we are all just coming together.”

The boats are built for Australians by Australians Thorpe concluded.


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