In the main, 2016 has been a good year for the wet leisure industry, at least from the perspective of the businesses that responded to the survey.
The weather was kind and the economy was reasonably buoyant.
And then there was Brexit. That shock result and its aftermath have sent waves through the wet leisure industry that have yet to show their full affect. It is important to remember that Brexit and the exchange rate crisis that it precipitated will affect the whole of the UK economy. Our industry hasn’t been singled out.
“Brexit will be a sad, surreal and exhausting process.” That isn’t a quote from our survey but from Guy Verhofstadt, chief Brexit negotiator for the European parliament. We have been warned.
Other challenges for many businesses remain competition from the Internet but as one respondent comments, “Some of the really low margin based companies selling on the Internet will die out over the next few years or at the very least will not be able to increase in size.”
Of course, one of our industry’s main growth areas is in service and maintenance and that is an area that online businesses can’t compete in at all. As on respondent puts it,” Less competition from the internet as customers are seeking a good local supplier to look after their pools and spa’s long term, not necessarily looking for the cheapest option above customer service.”
Another issue is that as volume returns to the spa market, cheap imports make inroads into the business. Once again, one of our respondents makes a good point. “It is important that good retailers continue to promote themselves as professionals to help fight against ‘fly-by-night importers’. The best way to combat this is through educating and training your staff and promoting your professional status’.