ASK FIVE: Lesley Robinson CEO of British Marine

The leisure marine industry is diverse, employs 33,000 people directly and is worth £3.2 billion to the UK economy. Just over six months ago, Lesley Robinson was appointed to be CEO of British Marine – the marine trade association with over 1500 members.

  1. Tell us more about the vision for British Marine? Our vision is to support a thriving industry delivering amazing on water experiences for everyone. From large boat builders to SMEs in the essential supply chain, marinas to chandleries, we all need to work together to attract people to try boating and encourage those already participating to continue. Like many other industries, we need to respond to changing consumer behaviour and make sure that the pounds spent in the leisure industry are spent in the marine industry.
  2. What’s on the agenda for 2019? The UK marine industry is strong and we have lots of very highly respected brands and innovative SMEs. We know the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is of concern to many businesses, in particular the potential impact on future trade with Europe. As well as working hard to make sure that the marine industry has a voice with UK PLC, we’ve been supporting members to look at how they might be impacted by the UK leaving the EU. In tough times we need to share what is working and learn from each other to continue to make the industry grow.
  3. Why was the British Marine Expo created? After listening to members, this flagship trade event taking place on 26 and 27 March 2019 at St. Mary’s Football Stadium in Southampton has been designed for businesses to get together to meet buyers, attend conferences and seminars and network. We wanted to create an event that gave people more than one reason to come along and we’ve had really good take up. We hope, subject to feedback from our members that we can run additional Expos in years to come around the country.
  4. What do you think is the value for companies in being part of British Marine? By being part of British Marine, we want businesses to be able to access a wide range of expert support, including technical and legal support, as well as the opportunity to build the vital networks that help drive sales and create jobs. We want to be a stronger trade association that fundamentally helps our members’ businesses. We need to further explain the benefits more clearly and show members that we listen to their challenges. This is central to the evolution of our membership packages and we are looking forward to updating our members on our work on this. We’ve learnt that a one size fits all approach to sales and promotion increasingly does not work for our members. So, 2019 offers a great chance to demonstrate how we can support members to get more people out on the water and help make it easier for businesses to see the value. Partnering with the new London Yacht Show in May 2019 is another way that we can share the skills we have for the benefit of members.
  5. Where’s your favourite place to get out on the water? I love the Round the Island Race. It epitomises everything that is fantastic about British yachting – participants of all ages and levels of experience on all types of craft having fun!