A successful year for many, 2015 got off to a good start with an extended spring season and the early onset of summer, which put a spring in the step of many water treatment suppliers.
Service and maintenance businesses in the residential pool sector were also hard pressed to cope with demand as pool owners rushed to get their pools up and running this year.
Many pool companies have said that they were delighted with numbers of new build enquiries in particular this year, as the air of optimism boosted interest and sales across the country. Riding the crest of a wave, the industry in general is feeling positive and confident as we head into the New Year.
Pool & Spa Scene magazine, the voice of the water leisure industry, asked a selection of leading industry personalities to give their take on 2015 and their predictions and resolutions for the year ahead…
Ben Blackburn, National Pools Business Development Manager at Bosta UK
“Bosta UK has enjoyed a very successful 2015 as we continue to broaden our customer base and product range and subsequently gain more market share in the UK pool sector. “A key subject on everybody’s lips this year has been warranties. With leading manufacturers making significant changes to their warranty process, pool retailers are on the lookout for suppliers who understand the pressures of selling in the retail market. The increasing competition in the UK pool market means pool companies are having to search for the best deals to stay ahead of the game.
“In 2016 Bosta will continue to strengthen its position as a leading supplier to the pool industry across Europe by focusing on service, efficient online ordering, after sales warranty service and working closely with our manufacturing partners.
“My own personal goal is to work in partnership with our customers in 2016. Not only to continue supplying an ideal product range at market leading prices, but also to understand the demands placed on our customers; be it product information, after sales service or availability and delivery.”
Vicky Wrigglesworth, Managing Director at Artesian Spas UK
“The hot tub market in the UK seems to have grown again in 2015. There seems to be a lot of new faces in the industry this year, with many new hot tub companies starting up than we’ve noticed previously.
“We have certainly seen a large increase again in overall sales with a good spread across all price points. Our success is down to the whole team – it’s a combined effort; all our UK dealers and in house staff have performed extremely well this year to provide the superb after sales service that people expect from our brand.
“Following the general year on year trend, I would predict another increase in overall hot tub sales for the market in 2016. My business goal for the year ahead is to offer the best service in the market to our customers.
“My personal challenge is to master the art of forward planning – although I’m sure this will be very difficult considering how busy we are!”
Richard Hart, Managing Director of Aqua Warehouse
“This year has seen very strong sales throughout our dealer network with the UK economy on the up. The good times are back! However with good times also brings more competition. We all have to be on top of our game to maintain our lead.
“2015 was also the year we established our accessories brand Aqua Spa Supplies into the UK & Europe. We knew the UK was crying out for an on-line trade shop for accessories, so 2015 was a year to build up a wide range of interesting products which has taken some time, but now our efforts are now paying off.
“My business resolution is to keep working hard, keep pushing the boundaries and to keep moving forward.
“On a personal level, I’m learning to play bridge. I’m told it’s great for keeping the mind going later in life so I thought I’d start now. Also my partner of many years promised to marry me if I learned so it seemed like a no brainer!”
Dyfed Thompson-Smith, newly appointed General Manager at AstralPool UK
“2015 for AstralPoolUk was very much a watershed year, with a complete realignment of the business coinciding with the arrival of Patrick Thorpe, backed up by the whole team at AstralPool UK. This resulted in a comprehensive review of existing product portfolio and a rejuvenation of domestic product pricing and renegotiation of some new exciting supplier arrangements.
“In terms of performance there was strong growth year on year on all the key product areas, and an establishment of a secure platform for pushing on into 2016 and beyond.
“The continued growth and confidence within the marketplace is a stand out factor of the year, coupled with the introduction of some revolutionary new products from within our parent company Fluidra. Also, perhaps more importantly, AstralPool UK being victorious in the inaugural golf challenge between us and our sister company Certikin, bragging rights with AstralPool UK for 2015!
“From a business perspective I see a continued confidence and commitment from the market place in 2016, but also an increase in development of new bespoke pool offerings, such as our stainless steel pool solutions within its relevant niche market.
“My personal resolution is to complete my long standing personal objective of completing my first eagerly awaited full marathon. Watch this space!”
Bob Kent, Managing Director of Mineral Supplies International
“Even though the UK is showing positive signs of recovery over other European markets, we will not be sheltered from another inevitable decline in the world markets. The Euro has lost its way – the Chinese economy will become faultier as the west reduces its buying power. This will in turn reflect across all markets and products sold. And inevitably it will reduce spending by breeding insecurity to buy products. Add this to the fact that many European markets still haven’t got off their knees – you will see a pattern emerging.
“My prediction for 2016 and beyond is that unless we work together to promote the industry, sales will continue to dwindle. “The footprint of all new pools installations and spas today is the profitable renovation/service work, for tomorrow.
“Yes, new industry standards have been initiated and yes there is a new website – all necessary yet all these are introverted decisions, not growth strategies.
“Unless some changes are made, our industry will flat line – then what?”
Darren Waters, Director at Vortex Parts
“I think the main thing that has stood out in the industry in recent years is the sense of optimism; each year seems to be getting better and better and real growth is clear to see. This has in turn helped the industry to maintain its recovery compared to a few of years back.
“Stand out companies in 2015 include Waterstream – Alex and Simon seem to be doing a good job with their one piece Compass Pools, and Aqua Platinum Projects seem to be producing some really good pools and projects from the media coverage I have seen. Also Mick Trice at Hot Tub Parts Superstore who started his eCommerce retail business around three years ago. He continues to go from strength to strength and has now diversified into servicing.
“I think 2016 should be another solid year for most. Growing competition for all means everybody needs to work that bit smarter to maintain growth but overall I feel it’s a fairly positive outlook for the industry.
“I am currently working on one or two other projects that I hope to develop further in 2016 one of which I am quite excited about. My resolution will be to remain focused and keep pushing my current businesses forward.”