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BB37

Alphacraft Boatyard For Sale

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20 hours ago, Jonzo said:

I've never really understood why Brundall (and Thorpe!) doesn't have the appeal that perhaps Wroxham or Potter Heigham do as a start destination. It's so easy to get to (ie the boatyards are 5 mins from the A47) and it's a lovely peaceful stretch of waterway too.

Yes the villages are further apart but actually within fairly short cruising range of Brundall there are loads of lovely places to visit, and if out for longer there are again many lovely places to visit without ever going up North (so avoiding the tedious stretches either side of Breydon). 

Wroxham has Roys and the river is lined with very pretty properties - both a considerable draw. It's a bitch to get into from Norwich on a busy day though but doesn't seem to put people off. 

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A little birdie (who should know) told me yesterday that Alphacraft is no longer for sale. Three boats have been sold, I am told, but the mould tools are not for sale.

:coat:Just thought I'd mention it. . . . 

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On 28/11/2016 at 7:15 PM, LondonRascal said:

.......and the fact  the Thames continues to attract holiday makers spending eye watering hire fees with the likes of Le Boat for their larger longer cruisers and yet the Norfolk Broads carries on slipping away...

Hi Robin

I think the Thames hire scene dimished fantastically quickly in numbers of hirecraft.  A decade made a massive difference, much bigger than the Broads had seen.  There are not many hireboats left in any price brackets really.

Dig out your brochures and add up how many boats disappeared between 1993 & 2003, and what percentage of the total number on hire this was.

It's a different waterway but there are always similarities and differences so a lot could be learnt by what changed or made people stop hiring.

Dan

 

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I guess I meant that the Thames has changed so far as number of boats and so on but those you can hire cost more - often for the same type as on the Broads, but despite that clearly people do still holiday there and are willing to pay those prices.  It is not therefore just down to a price thing.

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It is early days for us on the Thames, but having been here for a month, having been on the Broads, I have noticed that the ownership costs are more expensive, toll much more, as they have 45 locks to maintain and provide lock keepers for each one. Marina fees are nearly double what the Broads are. There are mooring fees in many places but Henley, Windsor expect to pay more. There are also many free moorings, some you have to log in your arrival time, either via the lock keeper or on line, to ensure you don't overstay your 24.0 hours. Then it's £5 for the next  24 hours for up to 2 days then a mortgage for each day after. They certainly know how to deal with "continuous cruisers".

We moved for practical reasons, non use of the boat and medical reasons, but now we are near our daughter's in Oxford, I have visited the boat every week since we have been here on the Thames.

I have a Robin to blame for a gadget I recently bought off a well known auction site, ( brand new unused, but at less than 1/3 new price, it's a sms controlled switch, so as we are now on shore power, it informs us of power loss, low temperatures, via sms texts and can be programmed via my mobile phone using sms texts, as a timer, and / or a thermostat. My intention is to fit a compressor type dehumidifier, that only comes on say during the day, but only if the temperature is above err  say 3  degrees"

I digress, there are far more riverside pubs and restaurants on the Thames, and several to choose from too at most popular places. There are more towns to visit with more things to do close to the river.

You will find a lock approx every hour when out cruising, can be a pain, or a point of interest, but as all are manned, you don't even get off the boat. It is a different waterway to the Broads, but the hire craft tend to stay south of us, so we can cruise the upper quiet reaches above Oxford. 

Overall the Broads have less expenses, than the canals, or the Thames, large cruising distances on the Southern Broads, no guarantee of finding a mooring where and when you want. Few places for teenagers to hang out.

I guess the Thames is more accessible from all points of the compass, unlike the Broads. The Thames hire bases, what few there are, can charge more, supply and demand etc. 

The main problem for hire companies on any waterway, is that many of their potential and previous customers now own their own boats, but it would be in the interests of the hire companies to find a way of squeezing out the private craft allowing these previous owners to become hirers again. Hmmm sounds familiar just look at toll fees lol.

This may come as a surprise to all of us boaty types, but... to say this may be a breach of the sites terms and conditions...

"Not everybody is interested in boats or cruising holidays" Aghhh !!!

I know it's hard to believe, but for many of us driving/travelling 3 hours or more to a beautiful waterway, there are still people who live in Norfolk or Suffolk some only 15 minutes from the Broads, that have never been on a boat in their life, and have no intention to either.

We will of course return to the Broads as a hirer, maybe early next year, we hope to take our family too. No doubt Grandad's treat lol. If things were different, we would have chosen to stay on the Broads, maybe a bigger boat,  we considered moving there too. But life changes...  Our Boat at Oxford suits our current lifestyle, it is a just a different waterway, but we get to keep our same boat. 

There is still some fine winter cruising to be enjoyed, wrap up, hot toddy, and enjoy the quiet waterways, and who knows, you might just find a mooring at Ranworth Staithe lol.

Happy cruising, wherever you are,

Richard

 

 

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On 30/11/2016 at 10:01 AM, Vaughan said:

A little birdie (who should know) told me yesterday that Alphacraft is no longer for sale. Three boats have been sold, I am told, but the mould tools are not for sale.

:coat:Just thought I'd mention it. . . . 

The mould tools were never for sale according to a number of people I spoke to; most of which would have been in the know. 

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On 01/12/2016 at 3:54 AM, Viking23 said:

The main problem for hire companies on any waterway, is that many of their potential and previous customers now own their own boats, but it would be in the interests of the hire companies to find a way of squeezing out the private craft allowing these previous owners to become hirers again. Hmmm sounds familiar just look at toll fees lol.

I can't see this being a real problem at all. To suggest that such a significant number of people who once hired have now bought is a main problem is ignoring all kinds of factors - one is the burgeoning population. Nevertheless, we intend to invest in torpedoes to test this theory :-) 

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15 minutes ago, FreedomBoatingHols said:

I can't see this being a real problem at all. To suggest that such a significant number of people who once hired have now bought is a main problem is ignoring all kinds of factors - one is the burgeoning population. Nevertheless, we intend to invest in torpedoes to test this theory :-) 

For any successful business, you must know who your customer base is, so without disclosing any sensitive marketing information, what is the breakdown of your customer base?

Having run a business myself in an industrial environment, I would think the breakdown might be something like this, but of course you are dealing with the public and not businesses like I was, so apologies if I have made too many assumptions.

Repeat customers I would think would be the main part of the business.

Referals from word of mouth or blogs.

Internet advertising, pop ups etc

DIrect Mailshots to previously interested parties

Media advertising, boating magazines etc 

Using a hosting company to do the marketing and booking like Blakes and Hoseasons etc

Direct mail shot to unqualified customers, ie random names.

 

I would think that as you go down the list above, you have increasing costs and overheads but with less and less return for your marketing investment.

I am not really sure how say Hoseasons fits into this, more and more customers are booking direct with the yard, I would think that Hoseasons would be targeting new customers, via travel agents and direct brochure supply via adverts in the TV and Radio Times at Christmas for example.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jonzo said:

I'm not convinced. If the yard's for sale, what exactly are they going to do with the tools given that half of the yards on the Broads would snap them up even in the state they're in?

You don't need a boatyard (particularly one with bad road access the wrong side of a level crossing, and at severe risk of flooding) in order to build boats. You just need a unit or two on an industrial estate or something similar. Richardson's did it when they built the Horizoncraft fleet at Catfield (and still own and rent out the buildings there), and indeed Aquafibre were based away from the waterside in Rackheath. There's also the small matter that by moving away from the water, the local planning authority becomes Norfolk County Council rather than the Broads Authority, which might bring advantages. If that's the part of the business they wish to concentrate on, then actually selling the yard and going elsewhere makes a lot of sense from a business perspective.

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I'm pretty sure there are some old Aquafibre molds still at Rackheath - what of and in what condition I know not, but I wonder if it may not be beyond the realms of fantasy to imagine Alphacraft to get what they can for the tired ex hire fleet,  tidy up and sell the land so far as the 'marina' is concerned because while tight someone is bound to want it or individual private moorings such as Herbert Woods have been selling for example. 

Then keep the shed space use the money made selling the above to acquire the old molds from Rackheath that can join those Alpha already own. With a few 're-jigs' to them,  present a new molding business under a new name.

It might even be possible then to move into two markets at once - bare bones boats for hire yards to fit out, and fitted out boats sold to the private market aka Sheerline - nothing too large, but focus on very high quality interior fittings and design internally.

Hmm

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That is the sort of outcome from a sad messy situation that I would really like to see Robin. Sadly I think there are other "issues" that make that highly unlikely. I do wish it were otherwise as I have a lot of happy memories out on Alpha boats and was always warmly welcomed at the yard. Yes, the Old man could be a tad fierce but I really liked him.

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On 02/12/2016 at 8:36 AM, Viking23 said:

For any successful business, you must know who your customer base is, so without disclosing any sensitive marketing information, what is the breakdown of your customer base?

Having run a business myself in an industrial environment, I would think the breakdown might be something like this, but of course you are dealing with the public and not businesses like I was, so apologies if I have made too many assumptions.

Repeat customers I would think would be the main part of the business.

Referals from word of mouth or blogs.

Internet advertising, pop ups etc

DIrect Mailshots to previously interested parties

Media advertising, boating magazines etc 

Using a hosting company to do the marketing and booking like Blakes and Hoseasons etc

Direct mail shot to unqualified customers, ie random names.

 

I would think that as you go down the list above, you have increasing costs and overheads but with less and less return for your marketing investment.

I am not really sure how say Hoseasons fits into this, more and more customers are booking direct with the yard, I would think that Hoseasons would be targeting new customers, via travel agents and direct brochure supply via adverts in the TV and Radio Times at Christmas for example.

 

 

Lots and lots of assumptions there. 

Freedom virtually nothing on advertising. 
Our facebook page keeps interest ongoing.
Our web site is where it's all at. Long in the tooth now, it is desperately in need of a revamp which I will get around to soon.

We don't use Blakes or Hoseasons (never did). Although it is a fact that these agencies have a far greater reach than we can achieve on our own, Freedom is an independent business just about to enter it's ninth hiring season; it's been hard, but we got there. 

We don't direct mail anyone. We do very occasional email mail-shots. Honestly, we do far too few of these. 

Our business is word of mouth and internet - almost exclusively. The playing field has changed dramatically over the last 15 years. Way back when, we would not have survived a season without a booking agent. In the next 15 years, I suspect that the booking agents will have their work well and truly cut out. 

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It is in the EDP today that Alphacraft are now in the hands of receivers, and will be sold off by auction.

They say that this includes the land, stock, the boats and the fibreglass mould tools.

I think it is rather unfortunate, after the history of this company in boat hiring, building and design, that the only photo that Archant could find to accompany their piece, was of a boat stuck under Thorpe bridge!

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Very sad it is close to our moorings  at Cove.Most of the boats are in a poor state.I hope someone buys and makes a go of it.

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30 minutes ago, brundallNavy said:

Let's hope they don't change their mind again on the day of the auction like last time.

 

I do wonder if that reprieve came about because the boats listed by the auctioneer may have been attracting incredibly low offers compared to what they would have been worth in better condition.

I still dont think anyone would want to buy it as an ongoing business so cant call where its heading this time, the land must be of more interest than everything on it. 

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But in saying that how long has the ex Brundall Angling plot been disused. 

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My understanding is the site when built had permission and was built in such a way to deal with any contamination problems for moulding that went on there, and as a result is one of the few areas with actual written permission to be able to mould boats (hull and superstructure). This would appeal to Brooms to expand their business the rest of the site, boats and existing mould tools would of course not bother them one bit.

If anyone was going to want the mould tools I would say it would be Herbert Woods - not only have they not fitted anything out for some time, but with Barnes now having the tools to make Serenade and working with Silverline for Encore I can't see Barnes wanting them. Faricraft Loynes and Horning Ferry Marina are sorted for new boats and working with Haines more and more. Well know Richardson;s are doing their own thing too, so Herbert Woods is the odd man out.

Any GRP boat no matter in what state can come back to live on, the issue is the cost of the remedial work verses the cost of purchase.

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A complex subject Robin covering chemicals such a styrenes and various organic peroxides, low flash storage of nasties like acetone, mechanical handling of 205 litre drums, airbourne problems with grinding. I was involved in the seventies and frankly what went on then was criminal. A little light reading but it is not coshh comprehensive,

PlasticsFabrication.pdf Sorry can't load it from my phone...

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A complex subject Robin covering chemicals such a styrenes and various organic peroxides, low flash storage of nasties like acetone, mechanical handling of 205 litre drums, airbourne problems with grinding. I was involved in the seventies and frankly what went on then was criminal. A little light reading but it is not coshh comprehensive,

PlasticsFabrication.pdf That is Gov.uk it for you, hopeless!!!

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I agree I don't think anyone will build or hire boats there.Will it become private moorings.not sure.Not easy to get in or out there.All in all it has been very sad.We hired a few boats there and got to know Paul very well.

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I hired from Alpha about 10 years ago. Old boat , but clean and tidy, everything worked and the people in the yard were fantastic. 

The chap ( Paul I think) reminded me of Russel Brand . ( But a nicer person!!)

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