The UK swimming pool and spa sector celebrated one of its best years in a decade at its annual UK Pool & Spa Awards with the industry reporting an eight per cent increase in business.
More hostages to the fortunes of the British weather rather than the economy, two months of sustained summer temperatures in July and August provided swimming pool builders and hot tub retailers with a vital business boost.
Figures gained through surveys involving 53 sample companies show sales of outdoor hot tubs are beginning to return to their peak of ten years ago.
Although domestic swimming pool new builds are still low, investment in the refurbishment and upgrade of existing swimming pools is providing a lifeline for many companies.
Sustained investment in the UK holiday park market helped boost commercial swimming pool performance despite budget cuts impacting on local authority owned pools.
“Although new projects are down, renovation and upgrades, especially improving energy efficiency, have provided the best figures for both the residential and commercial swimming pool markets for many years,” commented Christina Connor, editor of the leading trade publication Pool & Spa Scene.
“The hot tub sector has seen renewed interest in home improvement as more and more householders look to invest in outdoor living, not just for the summer but all year round.”
Now in their fifth year, the UK Pool & Spa Awards are open to an estimated 4,000 businesses that are involved in the multi-million provision of water leisure at home and across multiple public sectors from hotels and health clubs to schools and public pools. The awards, completely independent of any trade association affiliation, were presented at a business networking style event held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the NEC in Birmingham, in February; deliberately timed to coincide with the opening of the UK Pool & Spa Expo.
Nearly 40 winning companies, in 21 categories, were presented with their trophies by Olympic bronze medallist and sports personality Stephen Parry, following votes posted on-line and by an international jury of judges.
Stephen delighted a sell-out audience with tales from his career both in the water and out; as a sports commentator and a provider of community swimming pools through his company Total Swimming. “The awards are a great way to recognise the outstanding achievements within the pool and spa industry, and to celebrate some of the best projects that have been completed over the past year,” he said. “Swimming is a big part of my life, and I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to meet the people behind the pools and to be a part of the awards evening.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
There was a standing ovation as the Special Achievement Award was presented to Sussex-based DG Pool & Leisure for their contribution to Christopher’s Children’s Hospice in Guildford.
The company refurbished the pool, enlisting the help of some key suppliers who offered support on many of the products, namely: Certikin, Waterco, Triogen, Pollet, Poddymeter Flowmeters while DG Pools themselves gave one week’s labour free of charge.
By working together, the pool sector turned a negative into a positive, reducing the cost to the client by more than £8,000.
The big winners of the night were Guncast Swimming Pools who took two trophies; the Health & Wellness Project of the Year award for a spa installation at a private property in London, and the Commercial Pool of the Year award for the pool at Stanley House Hotel in Lancashire.
Essex-based Hydrospec were recognised for their refurbishment of Camberwell Leisure Centre in London and the Best Photograph of the Year went to Posh Spas for their image of Olympic gymnast Louis Smith balancing on the edge of a hot tub.
The popular winners of International Team of the Year were Phil Moseley and Gil Gingell of Darlly Europe who have seen overseas sales soar by 70% year on on year for the past three years, and currently supply 600 pool and spa retailers across 30 countries within Europe.
The UK Team of the Year award went to multiple awardwinning Portrait Pools, while Product of the Year honours went to Deep End Pools for their innovative Vac-Vice, designed to make swimming pool vacuuming safer and a whole lot easier.
The best shop or showroom category was split this year. Home Counties Horsham took the top honours in the Best Pool and Spa combined Showroom while Outdoor Living of Hull took the title of Best Hot Tub Showroom.
Christina Connor comments: “They say when it comes to showroom you need to invest in three things: location, location and location. “The Outdoor Living team in Hull has maximised the potential of a main road location to ensure drivers and passengers in thousands of cars that pass their showroom every day know exactly where to find one of the country’s leading hot tub retailers. “Once inside, visitors are not disappointed with a display of some 30 hot tubs, saunas and ancillary products. A classy counter with sit up stools sets a distinctive design. Private wet test facilities are provided with all the thought and detail of a health club Spa.
“Attention to detail, cleanliness, tidiness, thoughtful layout, helpful assistance. If you are looking for a model template on which to design the ideal hot tub showroom – then look no further,” adds Christina.
2013 saw Home Counties celebrate its 30th anniversary of successful continuous trading at its show centre in Horsham, West Sussex.
From very simple beginnings their show centre has evolved to one that covers all spectrums of the pool, spa and wellness industry.
The Home Counties display includes two full size inground pools, a 6m x 3m above ground pool, an indoor heated Endless Pool complex, an indoor heated wellness pool with hydraulic, underwater treadmill, two outdoor saunas, a 90m2 fully stocked retail store, and a dedicated hot tub showroom displaying eight to 10 tubs at any one time.
Waterworld in Stoke was the runaway winner of the Water Leisure Venue of the Year.
Offering an all-weathers tropical aqua park it attracts over 400,000 visitors per year and is the largest venue of its kind within the UK. It has an extensive range of water based rides and attractions suitable for all age groups all set at a constant 86 degrees.
Aquaterra fought of strong competition to take the title of Leisure Operator of the Year, standing out for its energy as a thriving, 21st century innovative organisation with a big heart for developing and sustaining healthier, happier and fitter communities.
Standing out for this year’s voters, Paramount Pools won the title of Supplier of the Year 2014; praised for outstanding product knowledge, integrity and commitment to customer care.
Established in 1979, Paramount Pool Products’ Steve Martin has taken over the company reins from Dad, Keith, and is maintaining the family values in every department by running an outstanding business that does not just meet but exceeds its customers’ expectations.
If you would like information on entering or sponsoring next year’s awards then contact the Pool & Spa Scene team:
or log on to www.ukpoolandspaawards.co.uk