By Zuzana Prochazka
Navico, Parent to Lowrance, Simrad, and B and G, Repositions Brands
With an expanded line of products, new navigation features and a streamlined strategy, B and G is not just for racing rock stars anymore.
At a press event in Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria, Navico, the corporate parent of B and G, Lowrance, and Simrad, announced their three-brand strategy and the very clear delineation between the lines. In the process, they introduced the enhanced features of a comprehensive offering of B and G navigation equipment including hardware and software. B and G has been reaching beyond the basics of instruments for several years and their new positioning is aimed at making it easier for average boaters to understand the brand’s strengths and capabilities. It’s a clear effort to shed B and G’s reputation for high-priced, high-end instruments only affordable to the racing elite, and to reach out to the club-racing and weekend cruising sailor at every level.
According to Product Line Director Alan Davis, 2013 will be the solidifying year where B and G offers products across three price points: value, mid-range and premium. This good-better-best strategy uses the names Navigator, Offshore and Grand Prix.
With this strategy, all boats, from entry level to Volvo Ocean racers, can benefit from B and G’s technology. At the same time, Simrad will cater to the power cruising and large sport fisher market, while Lowrance will continue their traditional focus on fishing, both salt and fresh water.
Navico also took that press opportunity to divulge their revenues, an interesting and self-promoting move since a private company is not compelled to share any financials with the public. According to the numbers gathered by Navico, (and not necessarily confirmed by other electronics manufacturers) Navico’s three brands dominated the market in 2012. B and G, Lowrance, and Simrad combined experienced a 27-percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 as compared to 2011, and 15-percent year-over-year growth. Navico’s operating earnings (EBITDA) grew by 43-percent to $41.4 million and annual revenues were $256 million. Those are impressive numbers in any economy, much less in difficult times. Navico also claimed that in both timeframes, Raymarine, Garmin, and Furuno were all in the red with only Humminbird showing miniscule growth. Navico estimates they increased their global market share by around four percentage points.
So what does all this mean to the average boater? Let’s take a look at some consumer-level benefits: Technology shared across the three brands translates to greater production volumes. That leads to economies of scale and possibly to product affordability. Whether that means more features, lower prices, or both, the boater is simply getting more for the money. Also, a healthy company like Navico is likely to value and invest in customer service, which is another benefit to the boater. As the B&G line integrates radar, charting, instruments and wireless viewing and control for tablets and smartphones (their GoFree apps), installation and use of various products aboard should be seamless if only because all the electronics now come from one manufacturer. More and more, boaters are looking for comprehensive electronic solutions, not just electronic components.
It may also stand to reason that Lowrance, which has traditionally served the fishing market, will have influence on how small and affordable hardware can become. In other words, why couldn’t even the smallest daysailer soon be outfitted with powerful navigation tools in compact plotters that rival the toys on large yachts?
Finally, charting and radar technology was brought over from Simrad and then enhanced with B and G’s sailing-specific features with Sailsteer software features like mark and min/max laylines, wind histograms that show lift and header history, rudder state and so forth. Additionally, Zeus by B and G now uses C-Map as well as Navionics Platinum Plus cartography.
It seems that Navico’s evolving strategy has left them well-positioned and quite healthy as a company, which presumably would translate to more innovation, better customer service, and some targeted solutions since, as Navico CEO Leif Ottosson stated, “B and G is the only brand in the world dedicated to sailing.” And now that means all levels of sailing—not just the guys and gals you’re likely to see on ESPN.
For more information. visit Navico.
- Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.
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