Friday, 18 June 2010

Will BW BID farewell to the mooring auction?

I am beginning to wonder how well some of the new (large capacity and very expensive to build) marina's will fare with the ever growing credit crunch. Many of the marina's will have been built with financial projections made from before the those gentlemen banker lost the plot. I am sure that the future is now much less rosy than it was expected to be.

Wearing my Breton boat hat, I ask what's in it for me?

I have just bid on a berth in a British Waterways marina. I got if for £10 over the basic opening bid price. If I have a trawl through the on-line BW moorings up for auction. I can see that there are a significant number of berths are not getting a single bid.

This cheery smiling chap is Simon Salem, Marketing and Customer Service Director for British Waterways. He looks like he has just seen his bonus check for the year.

Join me in a simple game from our childhood called "Simon said".

Simon said in a report "The key issue for us, looking ahead, is the abrupt change in the market for BW directly managed moorings." Market speak interpretation "British Waterways have failed."

Simon said "Since November with only around 50—60% of berths selling at auction." Market speak interpretation  "Yes, British Waterways failed big time".

Simon also said "Very few of those selling doing so at above guide price."  Market speak interpretation  "British Waterways failed and British Waterways look foolish now"

Simon said "Although the number of sites coming up for auction is a small percentage of our overall berths, we are monitoring this change closely and looking for innovative ways to market sites." Market speak interpretation  "British Waterways are looking for a much better way to crash and burn".

However, what Simon omitted to say was "British Waterways Policy of offering moorings by auction has failed, the whole concept of the mooring auction is a crock of shit." Market speak interpretation "If it looks to British Waterways like shit, if it smells like shit, even if it only tastes mildly like shit, then there is a good chance it is shit. So we will go for it".

Now, this has a significant financial knock on for anyone currently on a British Waterways  mooring. Anyone who is now paying more than any new boaters to there mooring site. I spoke to a long term customer of British Waterways  at West Stockwith. There were three empty berths, he had the smallest narrow boat in his group. He was paying out several hundred pounds a year more than others moored around him. My advice, give British Waterways two months notice, take advantage of the current situation. Then bid on either his own or another of the moorings that are available. He could then save himself a significant sum of money over the next three years.

Mooring auctions have been unpopular from the time they started. British Waterways claim it is a way of finding the "Market Value" for moorings in a given area. So what value can be placed on a mooring that fails to find a single bid? Will British Waterways be letting moorings for a peppercorn rent?

British Waterways has started to respond to this by starting to create a false shortage. This is done by not offering empty moorings for auction.  If you can get £1000 for one mooring (by concentrating customers) why settle for letting two go for £500. Have a talk with some of British Waterways staff and they will inform you in confidence of the number of moorings currently awaiting auction in various locations. It is after all British Waterways  who set the guide price, It's also British Waterways who set the "economical" starting bid. It's us who pay the price.


1 comment:

  1. Dear Maggie and Mike,
    I was deeply touched when I saw your story about your boat being named after me because you felt inspired by my paintings. From my understanding, your boat's name is now "Rosie". Is that correct? One of the nicknames people have called me is Rosie! It seems as if we are destined to meet and do something together regarding my paintings and your boat. Please let me know if you are interested in purchasing any of my beautiful impressionist paintings and/or my having an exhibit aboard your boat and my being present. I would prefer you contact me at or if not then and letting me know your thoughts. Do you ever voyage through France? I have an idea for a grand plan for us.
    Bon Voyage, Warmest Regards,
    Arden Rose


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