All shipshape at Raymarine

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Raymarine, the UK marine electronics specialist, claimed its future is shipshape thanks to demand from leisure sailors for increasingly sophisticated systems ranging from fish-finders to on-board entertainment.

Announcing its first financial results since becoming a public company in December, Raymarine said its strategy of launching innovative new products for use across a wider range of vessels was paying off. The firm also seems to be benefiting from the desire of an older, increasingly affluent population to take to the water — but only if supported by an array of the latest safety and navigation technology.

Raymarine’s sales grew by 14 per cent to £106m in 2004, while operating profits increased 63 per cent to £17.5m — though a large chunk of this was swallowed up by the costs of floating on the stock exchange and other one-off costs.

The company, formed in 2001 through a management buy-out of Raytheon’s marine leisure business, supplies electronic systems to owners, skippers and charter operators of power and sailing boats, mostly 20–100ft in length.

The firm said increased investment in technology R&D over the past few years — it spent more than £8m in 2004 — had enabled it to launch a string of new products catering for all shapes and sizes of vessel. These include a high-definition fish imaging system using digitally adaptive transmitter and receiver technology and new ‘smart pilot’ course computers that use advanced steering software to keep a vessel on course in various sea and weather conditions.

Raymarine also targeted the bigger end of the leisure boat market, launching an entertainment, camera and crew safety system operating as part of an integrated control network. According to the company, the marine market will become increasingly open to such systems as boats become larger and more complex, and as technology-savvy leisure sailors expect more comfort and convenience on-board.

‘We believe we can expand the market by introducing new technologies, integrating them into systems and marketing them aggressively,’ said chief executive Malcolm Miller, who joined the company from set-top box developer Pace Micro Technology.

Miller said wireless networking, engine monitoring and vessel control were among the areas on which Raymarine would focus to launch new technical innovations.

To cope with the increased demand, Raymarine has boosted production capacity at its Portsmouth plant and is reviewing all its sources of supply, including the electronic manufacturing service providers it uses in Mexico and Taiwan.