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2021 May June Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry


MARINA MANAGEMENT & CONSULTANCY A network ‘fit for the future’ Premier Marinas, the UK’s largest marina network, is seeking to modernise its offerings to suit customers with bigger boats and smarter technology. Charlotte Niemiec reports Premier Marinas owns and operates nine of the UK’s most prestigious marinas on the beautiful English south coast at Eastbourne, Brighton, Chichester, Southsea, Port Solent, Gosport, Swanwick, Noss on Dart and Falmouth. Boaters can take advantage of everything the region has to offer, from rolling countryside, rugged coastlines, arts and music festivals, national parks and dream destinations for history enthusiasts and foodies alike. The company was founded in 1994 when Arlington Properties, owner of Port Solent Marina, and First Leisure Corporation, owner of Chichester Marina, came together to create Associated Marinas Limited. The following year it was renamed Premier as the joint owners honed their plans to expand the marina portfolio. Since then, Premier has grown to manage nine marinas under four different owners. Most recently, in 2015, Premier was acquired by the Wellcome Trust – a global charitable foundation ‘dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in health by supporting the brightest minds’. The network’s most recent acquisition is Noss on Dart Marina in Dartmouth, which it acquired in 2016. Still in development, with 80% complete, the marina offers 232 berths and, amidst over 5,000 berths across the network, is the smallest of Premier’s marinas. The largest is Brighton, with over 1,300 berths. Each site includes a top quality, full service boatyard, 24/7 staffing, premium washing facilities and high levels of security. 38 – May/June 2021

MARINA MANAGEMENT & CONSULTANCY Left: Swanwick Marina, Premier’s flagship facility, received brand new infrastructure in 2020 further to development of a new boatyard facility in 2014 with supporting commercial property. The floating marina has 333 berths. Right: Noss on Dart marina in Dartmouth, acquired in 2016, is being redeveloped and should open for the 2021 boating season. It will offer 232 berths. A drystack, boatyard and more are underway. Below: Port Solent was one of the two ‘founding’ facilities in Associated Marinas, the precursor to Premier Marinas. To maintain its prestigious position and ensure its berths remain highly sought after, Premier CEO Pete Bradshaw watches boater trends carefully to anticipate future needs. “Customers expect far more out of their berthing than they did ten years ago,” he says. These expectations include high quality washing facilities, high standards of security, ample car parking and a full range of supporting services, including food and beverage. He envisions three main trends over the coming years. One is the demand for marina infrastructure that makes boating easy – bigger, higher pontoons to make access easier and safer, longer fingers and wider fairways to make arriving and departing safer. “Another trend is that customers want to have more control over how they manage their relationship with the marina,” Bradshaw says. “Most people use the Internet and/or apps to manage important aspects of their daily lives, such as banking, so expect to be able to manage their berthing arrangements in the same way. Not only will technology support this trend – interestingly, in April 2021, 72% of our customers renewed their annual berthing contracts online – it will also provide solutions that let customers know exactly how their boat is at any time, through maybe a combination of CCTV and on board sensors.” The third main trend is that marina operators will need to help their customers get greater value from their berthing arrangements as competition for their time and money increases. This could be by offering a broader range of onsite services, providing better ideas on where to go and what to do, or cruising from the marina, or making it easier for customers to look after their boats. “The point is that boat ownership competes with many leisure pursuits and marina operators have to ensure that boat owners get value out of their boat ownership,” Bradshaw clarifies. Recent developments The network is already working to fulfil some of these anticipated needs. Premier’s most recent development was installing brand new marina infrastructure at the network’s flagship Swanwick Marina in April 2020, at a cost of £4 million. This followed the development of a new boatyard facility with supporting commercial property delivered in 2014, also costing £4 million. The new floating marina now offers 333 berths ranging from 6m to 40m (20-131ft) – an increase of 59 berths on the old configuration. “All Swanwick berth holders now benefit from a berth measuring at least the length of their boat,” Bradshaw says. Premier will also soon unveil a new sales pavilion at Swanwick for new and used boat sales and a new facility building to accommodate onsite food and beverage and marina facilities. The new floating marina at Noss on Dart is on track to complete this season, offering 232 berths. A drystack for smaller motor craft will open later on in the year, as part of Noss on Dart’s £75 million redevelopment, to include a boatyard, commercial property, a decked car park, site-wide services and a marina facility building, all of which are underway. Premier has also submitted planning proposals for a site-wide regeneration of Gosport Marina. A new building will accommodate key facilities for the marina, including a marina reception and office, upgraded wash facilities, a launderette and a new berth holder’s lounge. It will also provide a stunning new home for the onsite restaurant. The submitted plans detail Premier’s vision for the new building as part of a £12 million investment in Gosport Marina’s regeneration. “Every site we manage offers a full service boatyard, which we believe is an essential element of the service we provide,” says Bradshaw. “These offer lift, high-pressure wash, block-off, boat storage and launch service. Onsite marine tenants are also available for boat repairs.” Premier also offers drystack berthing at Falmouth (48 spaces), Swanwick (112 spaces) and Gosport (120 spaces), to be followed shortly by Noss on Dart (120 spaces). “We can cater for large boats at Gosport Marina where our specialist boatyard, Endeavour Quay, provides lifting for boats up to 180 tonnes. In – May/June 2021 39

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