Continuing out tour of the UK’s thriving hot tub market, Ashleigh Bissett visits the picturesque county of Devon…
Spa retailers in Devon are anticipating a record-breaking sales season, with many already reporting a rise in sales figures compared to this time last year. Hydropool Devon are on track to double their turnover this year, while Elite Spas & Leisure (SW) are already well ahead of their 2018 sales figures.
“We feel that the hot tub market at the moment is buoyant as people are investing more in healthy lifestyles and their homes,” comments Eloise Hayes of Hydropool Devon.
Bradley Cannings, Managing Director of H20 in Exeter adds: “It’s been a solid year so far on tubs with sales targets on par with last year. It still amazes me how the market keeps getting strong year on year and I see this continuing whatever the economic factors like Brexit throw at us.” With its unspoilt coastline and countryside, Devon has long represented the archetypal British holiday destination. Each year an increasing number of holidaymakers flock to the county and experts are predicting that 2019 could be the busiest summer season on record for Devonshire’s tourism.
As one of Britain’s best loved holiday destinations, it’s no surprise that Devon is also a honeypot for people buying holiday homes. In fact, official figures show that percentage-wise, Devon and Cornwall are top of the second homes league table. And it’s Devon’s hot tub retailers that are among those reaping the rewards of their prime location in one of the UK’s holiday hotspots.
“One of the main advantages of being in Devon is the number of holiday let properties around. Many of which either have or want hot tubs and as our tubs are holiday let compliant, we are increasingly and regularly asked to supply,” explains Ian Parker, Manager of Elite Spas & Leisure (SW). He continues: “However, one of the main challenges of being based in Devon is the size of the county itself. The area we cover is pretty huge and we can often be driving well over an hour from one end of the county to another. When you combine that with tourist traffic in the holiday season it can make life difficult at times.” Bradley Cannings of H20 agrees: “We are blessed that within half an hour we can be on the moors or on coast. However the seasonal nature of the holiday hot tub industry in the area can be challenging, plus it can be quite a mission getting around the countryside during the peak season.”
Established in 2010 as Riviera Decking, husband and wife team David and Eloise Hayes quickly expanded from a small local business to a nationwide company specialising in large-scale decking projects. “As a successful spa owner myself and with David’s background as a master craftsman, this has given us a unique family insight into the wellness industry and has enabled us to truly understand what customers want, and how to deliver it,” explains Eloise of Hydropool Devon. Now a team of ten, David and Eloise have grown their business into the full service and supply of Hydropool hot tubs, and have grouped their companies under the Hayes Wellness umbrella.
Their primary showroom is based in Newton Abbot and boasts a broad selection of Hydropool hot tubs and swim spas, as well as the company’s own brand of chemicals and water care products. Their bestselling hot tub is currently 670 Platinum, while their most popular swim spa is the 14ft AquaTrainer.
Earlier this summer Hydropool Devon opened its second showroom in Weston-Super-Mare, which has broadened the company’s client base to encompass all of Devon and Cornwall up to Bristol and Bath. “This year is a big year for us. Not only have we introduced the Hydropool Swim Spa Executive series to our range, but we’ve also opened up a second premises. It’s an exciting time to be involved in hot tubs!” Eloise reveals that the company’s best form of marketing is attending county shows, which the team do on a regular basis. This summer the team exhibited at some of the county’s largest shows including the Royal Cornwall, the Royal Bath & West and the Devon County Show.
“Throughout the year we visit all the major county shows and put on special events for new and old customer alike,” says Eloise.
“Getting customers through the door of the showroom to view the hot tubs can be challenging, so we find that taking the hot tubs to shows for people to see is a great way of getting our name out there and showing off the products.”
Elite Spas & Leisure (SW) is a small family owned business with showrooms in Devon and Cornwall. As dealers of Aspen Spas and Far East Spas, the company’s hot tub client base covers all of Devon and Cornwall, as well as spreading into Somerset fo swimming pool customers.
“Our main suppliers are Aspel Spas UK for the Aspen and Far East range of spas and swim spas, but we also deal a lot with Certikin, Plastica, Pollet Pool Group and Golden Coast for all swimming pool, sauna and steam matters and CPC for the vast majority of our chemical needs,” explains Manager Ian Parker.
“When we chose our brands of hot tubs the main things we concentrated on when making our decision was quality, consistency, attention to detail, reliability, and aftersales support from both the UK distributer and the manufacturer and obviously price. All of which we recognised in the brands we sell.” He continues: “The fact the UK importer and distributor for our brands (Aspel Spas UK) is based in Yeovil Somerset also helped in our decision making. Not only does it mean we have very easy and quick access to the depot for spare parts and support but also the fact that we can tell our customers that they are buying their hot tub from a locally based company.” Elite Spas & Leisure SW’s Devon office opened in 2016 and the team have since seen rapid growth in terms of hot tub sales, servicing and repairs in the area. “I have noticed that in the three years of the Devon office being open that our sales of hot tubs have continued to grow and increasingly I have noticed that we have repeat customers coming back again and again to buy second or even third hot tubs for their holiday let properties,” comments Ian.
“This year we have added a fully operational Far East Tidal Wave swim spa to our display at the Devon office, following an increasing number of swim spa enquiries throughout 2018. Since it’s been on display, our enquiries and sales for swim spas have dramatically increased. We have customers coming from all over to see it and once they wet test it they regularly remark on the quality of the swim, the quality of the build and the price,” he adds.
MARKING A MILESTONE
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, H2O is the water leisure brand of Cannings – a family run building services engineering company based in Exeter. The company employs some 50 staff members and specialises in the design and installation of swimming pools and spas. The H20 team is headed up by Managing Director Bradley Cannings, who is assisted by Project Manager Andy Lester, Service & Maintenance Managers Mark Harris and Troy Godfrey and Retail & Sales Manager Jade Steer-Kemp.
The H20 showroom in Exeter has an extensive range of Artesian hot tubs on display, along with a private wet testing area, a TidalFit swim spa and associated pool and spa chemicals. Their current bestselling hot tub models are the Coast Special Edition and Antigua 52. Managing Director Bradley Cannings explains: “We had been loyal to several big America names within the pool industry pre-banking crisis and when Europe had the squeeze we were let down for the third time by our supply chain. At that point I decided that we would go with the Artesian brand as they not only had a fantastic privately owned product, but also had a proven track record in Europe. We’ve been with Artesian for over ten years now.”
Bradley says that H20’s best form of marketing is direct email marketing to their client database, with newsletters, offers and promotions. “We keep to the premium end of the market and sell on margin not numbers, which is very sustainable,” explains Bradley. He adds: “The holiday season does impact us and we try and model our business to accommodate this; we push all our hot tub services to the winter and have a great number of commercial clients that only do capital projects out of season, which helps.” Looking ahead, Bradley is feeling confident about the year ahead: “We did have a massive year last year so it will be a hard one to follow, at the moment we have a full order pad until October so I quite comfortable with that.”
Elite Spas & Leisure (SW)
elitespasandleisure.co.uk / 01803 431040
hydropooldevon.co.uk / 01803 872666
experienceh2o.co.uk / 01392 413 150