Following boom times, specialist pool companies are experiencing a reverse swing this year as they combat national economic woes and concerns for some individual households. In order to gauge performance, Pool & Spa Scene undertook a snap survey* of 20 companies, spread around the UK, and the messages were extremely similar. While many are now booking top end pool installations into 2023, the middle to low end of the pool market is reporting a massive drop in sales enquiries as potential customers fear a more uncertain future.
The knock-on effect for specialist pool product suppliers is that after a boom two years, turnover, for some, has dropped by up to 30 per cent. “Most of our clients are immune to recession although some customers have turned off their indoor pool and a couple have drained their pools — but not many,” said one installation and maintenance company based in the south of England who have 400 pools on their books.
“I have to acknowledge that new enquiries are slowing up, but after a crazy two years, they are probably back to normal levels,” he said and added: “We rarely get enquiries for anything low end anyway.” Pool companies confirm the season is becoming more condensed but the extended spell of warm weather, particularly in the southern half of England, has persuaded many to open up their outdoor pools earlier than they had originally planned.
Said one pool company in the centre of England: “Although people have delayed the opening of their pools, because the weather has been so good, the warm temperatures will nudge them and in which case, they then see the weather forecast and want the pool open tomorrow.” Said another: “These days the seasons seem to merge, even at Christmas, we pack in more and more maintenance work.”
Clients, who are generally more aware of running costs are triggering a ‘massive’ interest in solar heating and alternative heating methods with many doing their sums and retrofitting heat pumps. “Heat pumps are a win, win at the moment and luckily there is a broad choice and strong supply of product,” said one Northern-based pool company. “We are now quoting heat pumps on all new pool builds,” she confirmed. “The potential problem with heat pumps is that they have to match their claims with performance, and that is still a broad brush of concern,” said another.
“We are specifically looking for more heat retaining products such as insulated covers.” Post Covid stock issues are still impacting with liquid chlorine difficult to track down. “Luckily, we bought ahead and specifically, we put in an early bulk order which has meant in effect, we were immune to supply issues,” one business reported. Other stock shortages are in specialist swimming pool tiles and hot tub accessories like covers, on some leading brands. Said one supplier: “We are still living off last year’s boom sales but do not feel particularly anxious about the future which looks strong.” *Our thanks to everyone who took part. As promised, company and individual names have been withheld.