Irish hot tub dealers are enjoying one of their busiest years to date with sales up right across the board, writes Ashleigh Bissett. The general feeling is that customers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of owning a hot tub, and the majority are now prioritising quality over price. However, this year’s success is tainted with the uncertainty of the UK’s exit from the EU and how the outcome will affect business as the latest deadline of October 31 approaches. “The Irish hot tub market is steadily increasing with more and more people choosing to invest in their health and wellness,” comments Debbie Storey of Dublin-based Aquasun. “The challenges of planning for Brexit is on most Irish business owners’ minds and has been for many months.
However, we are forever the optimist, and regardless of the outcome will continue to serve our customer on both sides of the controversial border, if there is one!” Paul McCabe of Canadian Spa & Leisure agrees: “2019 has been an excellent year for us to date, in fact our best in 22 years, however, the concern is that Brexit could have devastating consequences for us as we cross the border most days of the week.” He adds: “We are already finding through our service business we are picking up business from customers who have been let down by the low end market sellers. It is a tough business in Ireland but with our service business we will always be strong.”
With only a handful of long-standing spa retailers in Ireland, reputation counts for a lot and providing the best quality products and service to customers is of paramount importance. “Ireland is a small country where people love to talk! Most of our new hot tub sales come from customer referrals, not only is this the most cost effective advertising, but it also demonstrates that our product and serve is worth talking about,” comments Stephen Ross of Complete Leisure Supplies. Alain McGeagh, Owner of The Hot Tub Centre based near Belfast agrees: “One of the main benefits of being based in Ireland is that there’s little competition and generally people prefer to buy local.” He adds: “While we’re enjoying a busy year at the moment, we’re not feeling too confident about the effect that Brexit will have. I think the hot tub industry on the whole is in for a bump, but hopefully we will be able to weather the storm like we did in the previous recession.”
2019 is shaping up to be The Hot Tub Centre’s best ever year in terms of sales. The company has been trading for over 24 years and recently moved to a new 2,000 sq ft showroom premises to keep up with the growing demand. “At the moment around 95% of our hot tubs are Wellis, but we also stock American Whirlpool hot tubs and we recently added Superior Spas to our offering which have been well-received so far,” explains Alain. “When you have been going for as long as we have, the majority of business comes through recommendations and word of mouth.” The Hot Tub Centre is powered by a team of three, made up of Alain and his son Alastair and Ian McMilllan who oversees sales and deliveries.
The trio cover all of Northern Ireland and also deliver into the Republic of Ireland. The business is based on hot tub sales and the regular servicing and maintenance of their own hot tub installations. The Hot Tub Centre recently rolled out a three years 0% interest finance package for new customers, which has increased sales by 50 per cent in the last four months. Says Alain: “Our new finance package has added a lot of new revenue and has encouraged a lot of people to buy who maybe would not have before.”
Established over 22 years ago, the family-run Aquasun is headed up by Ken and Patricia Storey who own and oversee the business on a day-today basis. Their daughter Debbie is responsible for the Republic of Ireland market and all three are supported by a long-standing team of six sales, admin, service and delivery staff. Aquasun are the sole distributors of Hot Spring Spas in Ireland, as well as Endless Pools Swim Machines and Endless Pools Fitness Systems. The company also supply the Swedish brand of sauna and steam rooms, TyloHelo. Says Debbie: “We first imported hot tubs into Ireland in 1998 and as one of the first suppliers, we had the choice of brands to supply to the Irish market.
Watkins Wellness has been manufacturing for over 40 years and have sold over a million hot tubs worldwide, so we knew right from the beginning that HotSpring was a major brand and from their continued success they were a clear choice for Aquasun.” Aquasun have recently completed a refurbishment of their Co.Antrim showroom to showcase 15 Hot Spring hot tubs and two new Endless Pools. Debbie adds: “We have developed a test-swim area for customers to try out the swim current of an Endless Pool. We know our products deliver and there is no better way to sell it than let them get in and try it for themselves.”
Formed in 1997, Canadian Spa & Leisure are the exclusive dealers of Canadian Spa in Ireland. The company also supplies swimming pools and has a hot tub servicing division known as hottubdoctor.ie. “We value service as our biggest sales tool and through this operation we service and repair all makes of hot tubs nationwide,” explains Owner Paul McCaul. “When we started out, branding and quality was important, and all of this came in a package from Canadian Spa. They had an operation in the UK which meant we were not dealing with the other side of the world and the team we deal with today are the same people from the beginning.” Canadian Spa & Leisure cover the whole of Ireland. Their current bestselling models are the Toronto, Alberta, Ottawa and Thunderbay. Says Paul: “I manage every aspect of our hot tub sales and personally see the order through from start to finish. The ability to look after the customer after you sell it is as important as the sale. We carry stock of all covers, chemicals and spares so the customer can get what they need. In terms of the chemical training, if it is done correctly at the start the customer will have no issues.”
Complete Leisure supplies have been operating from their premises in Celbridge, Co. Kildare for over 20 years. As the only Arctic Spas dealership in Ireland, the company prides itself on providing high quality products and reliable service to its customers in both the North and South of Ireland. “We chose Arctic Spas because of the quality and reliability of the product as well as the constant innovation, such as Spaboy, which, in our opinion is the most advanced and feature-rich hot tub connection solution industrywide,” comments Co-Founder Steve Ross. “Our current bestselling model is the Arctic Spa Baffin. The Baffin is a super strong quality hot tub, but available at a price point that everyone can afford.” Steve heads up a team of eight, which includes the Office Manager Dave, Accounts Manager Kate, and Service Technicians Declan and Rafal. Earlier this year the company doubled the size of its showroom to keep up with the growing demand for hot tubs and swim spas.
“The market is buoyant at the moment,” says Steve. “2019 is shaping up to be a good year, with an increase in business over last year. Its steady and manag
eable growth and that is what we aim for.” He adds: “We predict increased sales in line with a growing economy, however, our business model concentrates on long term customer support, so we focus on being there for service and repairs regardless of the economy and strength of new hot tub sales.” The Hot Tub Supercentre was first established in 2015 in Falkirk Scotland and earlier this year, the company opened a second branch in Craigavon, Co. Armagh. “We’ve seen a huge rise in sales in Northern Ireland since we opened the doors to our brand new showroom,” explains Sales Manager David Seggie.
ALL BASES COVERED
“Previously we were selling to the Irish market through our online shop. Word of our products and great service is spreading fast and we have had a lot of family and friends of customers who have already purchased tubs coming in to buy for themselves,” he adds. The Hot Tub Super Centre’s client base stretches right across the UK and Ireland. They currently stock three ranges of spas – Be Well Canada Spa, Superior Spas and their in-house Spring Valley Spas. Their bestselling model in Northern Ireland is the Caribbean from the Spring Valley Spas range, which retails at £5,995. Says David: “Our main project at the moment is establishing our brand in Northern Ireland. At the moment we are working on our own range of tubs that will be unique to our company and not available from any other retailer. We are hoping to launch this new range of tubs early 2020.”
Canadian Spa & Leisure
028 8776 1144
The Hot Tub Centre
028 9044 9968
028 2763 7988
Complete Leisure Supplies
+353 (1) 627 9070
The Hot Tub Super Centre