Business News

Seaway Posts Record Sales Despite Crisis in Boating Industry (interview)

Ljubljana, 18 January (STA) - Japec Jakopin, the co-founder of award-winning boat maker Seaway Group, has told the STA in an interview that 2010 was one of the hardest years for the industry, which saw its sales halved, but his company managed to generate record sales thanks to hybrid boats.

Noting that hybrid electric boats would be the future direction for Seaway, he said that the company needed to be wakened up from its comfort zone.

The recession has halved sales in the nautical industry since 2007, while profits in the branch have shrunk sixfold. This industry can rightly say that serious changes have occurred, he said.

But Seaway had a record year in 2010 in terms of sales, primarily because of the development of its Greenline hybrid series, which has exceeded expectations. Another Greenline model will be unveiled this year.

The new facility in Italy's Monfalcone, launched in 2009, is a challenge, because of a different culture and legislation. It produces large boats which cannot be transported by land, while other boats will continue to be built in Slovenia, Jakopin said.

The company still cannot expect major profits because of its Italian investment, as well as in green technologies, wind energy and education.

According to Jakopin, 2010 was one of the toughest years in the last 30 years. "We have learned a lot and we are aware that we have to change many things in order to survive and develop in the coming years".

Asked how individual entrepreneurs and the economy as a whole could beat the crisis, he said that the answer was in adjusting to change.

"It is clear that the EU and US are in a vacuum of some sort, as 80% of global growth in the next five years is expected in countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China".

The globalisation did away with the perception that these "countries are colonies, that we are the masters and that they will work for us. Now everybody works for themselves and we will have to take care of ourselves on our own."

But Jakopin is confident about Europe because it has preserved its multiculturality, while other parts of the world have become melting pots.

"This makes Europe a much richer and, I hope, a much more innovative and creative space. In my opinion Europe should become a development centre of the world - it meets all the conditions for this."

The tempo will be dictated by China, which means that younger generations will have to get down to work. "I see no comfort zone in the next 20 or 30 years. There will be no time to relax, swift adjustments will be necessary."

Asked about Slovenia's business environment, Jakopin said that it was considerably better than it used to be. It is not at the level of long-term democracies, but Slovenia is a very good environment for doing business, he added.

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