Brundall boat sales firm forges ahead after £2m marina investment

Norfolk Boat Sales’ redevelopment of the marina at Brundall.
Sales Manager Matthew Stone at the marina.

Picture: James Bass

Stephen Pullinger
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

8:00 AM

A Norfolk boat sales firm has doubled its turnover in two years – from £2m to £4m – as it looks to cement its position as a national player at a newly refurbished marina.

Since starting as a modest boat sales arm of Broads hire boat firm Barnes Brinkcraft, Norfolk Boat Sales (NBS) has passed the milestone of selling more than 150 boats a year.

And the firm is now preparing for a busy summer at its new headquarters, the former Eastwood Marina, in Brundall, which it bought two years ago.

The team, led by sales manager Matthew Stone, moved to the site in December following nearly a year of improvement work which took the investment of directors Daniel and Matthew Thwaites, including purchase price, to more than £2m.

Mr Stone said: “At the beginning it was very run-down and we had to start by knocking down an array of old sheds that flooded. We dredged the marina to nearly double the number of moorings and put in new quay heading, steel not wood, as well as durable fibre plastic pontoons.”

The on-site office had been refitted and in the coming weeks further improvements would include the arrival of a boat lift to facilitate service and repair for customers, he added.

The pace of business is reflected in the fact that Mr Stone is preparing to hand over 13 boats in the run-up to Easter alone.

He said: “It all started seven years when I was working for Walton Marine which leased a small office in Wroxham. Matthew Thwaites and I got chatting and decided it would be a good move to set up on our own.

“Over three years we grew the business and bought more and more stock, and then we secured the Broom agency which put our name on the map.

“We started really investing in stock and pushing brokerage. Then we became the dealer for Elan (a Croatian brand). We thought it would be a good option for the short term but it has proved to be brilliant.”

In the space of 12 months they had sold about a dozen in the range and were now gearing up for the launch of the new Elan 37, an impressive boat with two ensuite cabins, at the Southampton boat show in September.

He said the Thwaites’ had invested more than £2m in new and used stock and all the marina moorings were given over to sales boats.

NBS had been based on the site of nearby Broom until the boatbuilder took back sales in-house at the end of last year.

The company, which retains an office in Wroxham, has grown to a staff of nine and Mr Stone anticipates further expansion.

Highlighting the success of both NBS and neighbouring Norfolk Yacht Agency, he said it underlined Norfolk’s status in the national market.

He said the business complemented the operation of Barnes Brinkcraft’s hire boat trade.

“When you are buying and selling boats you can keep engineers and other staff busy even when the hire boats are all out. It shares a lot of the costs,” he said.

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