On December 5, the Brunswick Corporation announced they intend to sell Sea Ray, one of their 15 brands. The classic boat brand, founded in 1959 by Cornelius Nathaniel (Connie) Ray III and purchased by Brunswick in 1986, will be sold in the first half of 2018, according to a statement released by CEO Mark Schwabero. Lazard’s Middle Market advisory group will be working as Brunswick’s investment banker for the sale, according to a press release.
“Our marine strategy is focused on developing, manufacturing, and distributing market-leading products to recreational and commercial marine consumers through our portfolio of engine, boat and parts, and accessories businesses,” said Schwabero.
The sale comes after the third quarter earnings report from Brunswick was released on October 26 that showed earnings of $79 million, a loss of $6.3 million from the same period last year. Sales from the boating segment were up, but hurricane Irma hurt sales of product primarily manufactured in Florida.
“This decision was made after careful consideration, and reflects the evolving contribution that the Sea Ray brand has made to our marine portfolio,” Schwabero commented. “Our remaining brands will continue to be important elements of a robust, balanced marine business, with our boat portfolio serving healthy, expanding market segments,” Schwabero explained. “This more focused strategy will provide the best opportunities for growth and will complement our other marine offerings, including engines, parts, and accessories. This shift will also improve our risk and margin profile and is consistent with our commitment to drive shareholder value.”
Brunswick hopes that Sea Ray’s decades-old reputation for quality will make it an attractive opportunity for perspective buyers. “We believe that the Sea Ray business, through its leading brand and exciting product line, offers attractive value creation opportunities to a new owner,” Schwabero added. “Sea Ray is an iconic brand that is rich with history, with a reputation for craftsmanship, quality, and styling. Sea Ray’s manufacturing facilities are among the most advanced in the marine industry, with talented and dedicated workforces.”
The Sea Ray brand will continue to be supported by Brunswick until the sale. There is no word yet on how the sale will affect Sea Ray employees at any of the Sea Ray plant locations or dealerships, one of which is in Lake Union. Lake Union Sea Ray has three locations in Western Washington. Employees worldwide have been notified of the sale and will receive updates as the sale moves forward.