At Promarine Finance, we’re passionate about helping people find the boat of their dreams. A significant part of the boat buying process includes finding a safe, affordable and reliable place to berth your boat.
Promarine Finance’s Stuart Austin spoke to Anthony Jones, Group Sales and Area Manager at Lakeland Leisure Estates, a family-owned leisure business with six idyllic marinas across the UK.
Here’s what we found out.
1. At Lakeland Leisure, what kind of berthing options are you giving your berth holders?
Anthony: We have monthly, quarterly and annual berthing packages available. We also offer winter moorings when space is available and typically these customers will stay with us for 4 – 6 months.
2. You have one coastal marina and five designed for inland boaters. Are these just for canal boats or are they suitable for river and motorboats?
Anthony: We have one coastal marina in Conwy, North Wales, and inland marinas in Essex, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire and North Wessex Downs.
There are a mix of boats depending on the marina. We have some GRPs, wide beams, dutch barges and narrowboats.
3. At Promarine Finance, we are seeing a lot of new boaters enter the marketplace. As a marina, what do you offer new boaters in berth holder packages or membership terms?
Anthony: We have a wealth of knowledge covering all aspects of boating at each marina which we happily pass on to our new berth holders. As an example, some boaters have very little experience in owning a vessel and in cases like this, we recommend that these boaters undergo training. We have partnered with a few accredited companies that offer these services to our customers at a discounted rate. The same applies to the general maintenance of your vessels. We have facilities around the country that can assist you with servicing, blacking, repairs or general maintenance.
4. I know from my own boating experience, entering a marina is nerve wracking. You won’t always have the experience and skills to be able to confidently move a 50 ft-70 ft boat. Do the marina’s staff get involved in that and help with lines etc?
Anthony: The entire team across the country is very helpful. We are always ready to assist anyone who is struggling. If we know you are not comfortable or at a certain level, we will advise that you get some training and we will most certainly help facilitate that.
5. The important thing is, if you are a newcomer, you don’t have to feel like you need to be the best boat handler on day one. If you have got marina staff that are willing to help and you are brave enough to ask for that help that is important.
Can you share with us any future plans that the business has?
Anthony: Lakeland Leisure Estates is a very dynamic, energetic business and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our service offerings across all of our sites. Over the next year, we will be focusing on growing our hire boat business which currently runs out of Tattenhall Marina and Saul Junction.
Due to demand, we are also expanding our brokerage services around the country. We currently offer a standard brokerage service, part exchange or an outright purchase of your vessel. Our aim is to make buying or selling your vessel as easy as possible.
We are also trying to expand our leisure mooring offering at Roydon Marina Village, the rise in the number of boats down south has put the network in a very difficult position, there are simply not enough moorings available to assist with the volume increase and it is incredibly important that we can help facilitate this.
6. How close to London is Roydon Marina Village?
Anthony: By train, we are looking at about 30 minutes.
7. So potentially that could be an option for people that are getting crowded in London to go and berth at Roydon.
8. You also mention you are expanding the hire boat fleet. Do you see that as a useful entry level to people buying boats or purely just a different market? Is there any crossover there?
Anthony: There is a crossover here, you have people who want to experience something new, in some cases this is the deciding factor for them and they end up purchasing their own vessel. You then have individuals or families that just need an escape from their busy lives and this is an affordable way for them to relax and enjoy the tranquillity of cruising our beautiful waterways.
9. When people are berthing their boat with you, what are the benefits they get when choosing Lakeland as a berther?
Anthony: We have affordable mooring offers in some of the most beautiful locations around the country. Each of our marinas offer our customer base all of the required services including, fuel, coal, gas, elsan, pump out, chandlery, toilets, showers and laundry services. We also offer a “Roam Free” scheme, our annual moorers can tour the country and visit any of our inland marinas across the UK as part of our mooring offer. Our “Roam Free” scheme encourages the freedom to explore the waterways whilst knowing that you have a secure mooring to hand.
10. Any other bertholding things, like maintenance or service?
Anthony: Most of our marinas have a maintenance facility, some of them internal and some outsourced. We also have a chandlery and brokerage service at every location.
11. I was going to talk to you separately about brokerage. People always ask ‘where do I buy a boat from?’ but I guess your services broaden that.
Anthony: Absolutely. We cater for everyone’s needs, besides the normal brokerage and part exchange service, we buy pre owned vessels, refurbish them, give them a new lease of life and resell them with a guarantee. We have also partnered with various boat builders and offer new boats as part of our package.
12. Everyone gets excited about buying the boat, but the reality is that at some point you’ll want to sell the boat. All of these things come at a cost but it gives you the option to get in and get out of boating as and when you choose.
What sets Lakeland Leisure Estates apart from the industry?
Anthony: From my perspective it’s a family business, and family values are at the forefront of everything that we do. We also follow a very strict legal framework when selling or buying any vessel so you can rest assured that all of the important boxes are ticked when buying or selling through Lakeland Leisure Estates.
13. Over the last couple of years we have seen a massive trend in popularity of people moving to live on inland water-based boats and buying boats for inland waterways.
Inevitably that has resulted in a price increase for most boats and sometimes it is the private sellers trying to benefit from that gain as well. What shift are you seeing and how are you helping people in that market?
Anthony: We have seen the same shifts. The prices of canal boats have increased, this is due to the increase in demand, labour costs, resources like wood and steel etc. If you have not done your homework or simply don’t know what to look for, there is risk in buying from a private individual and not using a brokerage service. Buying or selling through a broker ensures that the legal framework is followed and all of the important checks and balances have been done. Buying a boat is a big decision and a long term proposition that needs careful thought. We recommend that every vessel goes through a survey process and that all of the relevant paperwork is in place. If you choose the right boat, your investment will last for decades to come.
Find out more about Lakeland Leisure Estates on their website.