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The Saltwater Stone team talks to Jo Roche about the event’s history and how it has expanded and improved over the last two decades.

From the outset Seawork filled a gap in the market as the only showcase for operators, builders and equipment suppliers of small to medium-sized commercial vessels. When it was founded in 1997, by Mercator Media’s CEO Andrew Webster, the only existing commercial shows were in mainland Europe, and these were primarily aimed at larger ships. By focusing on workboats and the smaller end of the shipping market, Seawork filled a niche and also created a new platform for products which crossed over from the leisure marine market.

The initial venue was a shoreside warehouse at Southampton Docks and the fledgling commercial event soon started to thrive. The early shows were quite small and very specialised but quickly found a market and seemed to grow each year. When it moved to the new site, where Southampton Boat Show is held, there was concern it would lose its friendly atmosphere, which it did in part, but it became more professional and, if anything, gained more traction because of it.


Image courtesy of Seawork


As the show became more established, the number of international firms and larger companies exhibiting increased greatly. It is now an important event which Saltwater Stone strongly recommends to clients.

Seawork stands out with a diverse, international exhibitor list with the added attraction of an on-water element placing it as a great place to demonstrate new products to potential customers.

Saltwater Stone now has a very close relationship with the show, sponsoring the press office and assisting in the organisation of the European Commercial Marine Awards, which are held on the first day. Georgina, Izzi and Jemima from the events team at Saltwater Stone, organise the event on the night and Clive hosts the presentation with Jake Frith, Editor of Maritime Journal, one of Mercator’s titles. The awards have been held for many years, but our involvement and the new venue has taken the awards to the next level.

After two decades Seawork has grown to become one of the most important commercial marine shows in Europe, catering for smaller vessels. It offers a unique combination of covered exhibition space, open-air demonstrations and floating displays, as well as conferences and an awards ceremony. Each year it attracts over 600 exhibitors and around 7,7000 attendees from around the world.

The Saltwater Stone team will be on hand throughout Seawork and available for informal meetings with any visitors or exhibitors looking for new ways to communicate with their customers and the media.