In a growing market that has seen some fierce competition in recent years, Spafix is one of the strongest contenders for the title of Europe’s biggest spa parts suppliers.
With a turnover topping the £1m mark – Spafix has more than earned its reputation as a market leader. All the more astounding given that founder, Darren Waters, started the company from a spare bedroom of his Hampshire home just four years ago.
“As a spa service engineer myself, I realised it was very hard to get the parts I wanted and in the quickest time which was very frustrating,” Darren recalls. “It prompted me to start my own parts website – initially, just designed so I could sell parts more easily to my retail customers,” he adds.
“But ultimately it has been supply to the trade that has really seen the business sky-rocket.” Fortune favours the brave as Darren invested heavily.
Within months and on the back of some excellent accounts established with the world’s major spa parts suppliers, he had moved into his first premises. Spafix currently occupies a 4,500 sq ft unit facility with a fully-stocked warehouse and a 12-strong workforce. “I am proud of the respect Spafix attracts as a business,” says Darren.
“We have maintained a sensible pricing strategy that actually deters retail sales,” Darren points out. “In fact, given the considerable investment in a hot tub, the enquiries we attract from end-users usually involve customers who would prefer to have an experienced technician to both supply the parts and do the work for them.
“When it comes to Internet selling, I firmly believe, for the sake of sanity, there needs to be a reasonable margin for the trade,” Darren comments. “I cannot see the point of so many Internet sites ‘short selling’ by making 50p or a £1 on a pot of chlorine.
Clearly, with no margins, there is then the temptation to cut corners and some are even tempted to send out dangerous goods like chlorine by inappropriate methods. “Spafix is not in that rat race because we predominantly deal with trade – in fact 90% of our sales are B2B.” Not content with UK domination, Spafix ramped up its overseas export strategy with the launch of French and Spainish websites www.spafixdirect.fr and www.spafixdirect.es respectively, at the Barcelona pool show last year. Spafix will be at Interbad in Germany in October and at Lyon, France, in November to further establish those global sales routes.
“I am learning French at the moment because I want to improve our service to our customers in France which is a growing market for us,” Darren reveals.
“But all of Europe offers huge potential for us and we are determined to build on a winning formula in many other countries as well as the UK,” says Darren. “We are looking to double our export sales in the next year,” he adds. “It is continual investment that has got Spafix to the point it is today and that will be the philosophy for the future.”
As the service side of the business has also seen steep growth, Darren has taken the logical step of separating the face to face service and maintenance business as a company in its own right operating as Spafix Services alongside Spafix Direct.
“I don’t know if we are the biggest but I would like to think we are one of them,” says Darren. “Our whole ethos has been built around customer satisfaction and delivering what we say we are going to do and continually improving as a business,” he adds.
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