Marinas not profitable

Published: Thursday, 03 January 2013

A REPORT produced for a marina owner shows that only 48 of the country's marina operators are trading at a profit with 77 showing signs of failing and 45 currently up for sale at a loss on their original capital investment, writes Allan Richards.

The report was produced for Paul Lillie, Managing Director of Pillings Lock Marina on the Leicester Line, who is objecting to new marinas being built in the area which affect the viability of his own marina. He has taken up the matter with his MP.

Network Agency Agreement

Central to marina owners problems are oversupply in the marketplace which, in turn, leads to under occupancy. However, many new new marinas, including Pillings Lock, were built on the basis of British Waterways' Marina Investment Guide which claimed a massive demand for new berths.

New marina owners' problems are exacerbated by Network Access Agreements (NAA's) with Canal & River Trust which assume full occupancy. Older established marina operators are not subject to such charges.

Refusing to meet

In the case of Paul Lillie, who says he is facing bankruptcy, NAA cost him £44,000 last year and has been a bone of contention with CaRT and its predecessor, British Waterways, for some years. He states that CaRT are refusing to meet with him to discuss the situation.

CaRT's view as expressed by its chief executive is that 'It is not for the Trust to regulate the supply of marinas on its network. This is a matter for market forces to determine'.

Not really bothered

However, as CaRT stands to gain via NAA's from new marinas irrespective of occupancy, and its marina subsidiary British Waterways Marinas Ltd (BWML) has a declared policy of 'expanding by acquisition', it would appear that it is not really bothered about the viability of proposed marinas.

It gets its money irrespective of marina occupancy, and should the business become insupportable for the present owner, BWML has the option of buying it!