Piscina & Wellness Barcelona is preparing one of its most ambitious and international editions of the last ten years, and it will take place from 27 to 30 November. Different benchmark brands, such as the Hayward multinational company, have already confirmed attendance. David Accensi is currently running one of the two European commercial divisions of the Hayward Holdings Inc. Group, leading Europe’s North, East and South markets, and he actively participates in the group’s commercial development plans. We spoke with him about the industry’s current situation, as well as about the vision the company has regarding water installation sustainability and its worldwide equipment offer.
1. Thanks to your experience in the pools industry, which spans back more than 20 years, what area or aspects do you believe have evolved the most within the industry?
The European market has focused on comfort. In the past, pools were fitted with the most basic equipment: mounted materials, such as skimmers, drains, lights, pumps and filters, and, in some cases, suction pool cleaners. However, over the last few years, pools have acquired equipment, with products such as robots, saline water electrolysis, heat pumps and covers, etc. This change has allowed for all industry participants—manufacturers, distributors and professionals, among others—to have a very significant business, in both new pools and previously installed pools. These comfort products already account for 30% of current business.
Within mature markets, such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain, where there is a large pool park, we can find both trends: basic equipment as well as the rise in more technological equipment.
2. After taking the pulse of the industry, what assessment do you make of the current situation?
The current situation is not as positive as it was 2 years ago. The pool industry benefited from the pandemic, as the demand for pools sky-rocketed with newly built pools and renovation of existing pools, all across Europe, and especially in the Northern regions. But with the end of the pandemic, the war in the East of Europe, and the high inflation levels, demand ceased, just like it did in many other industries and, nowadays, we are facing uncertainty and reverting to more moderate growth levels.
In any case, in parallel to this growth deceleration, what is undergoing a clear revival are public pools, and their role is growing after enduring adversity during the pandemic years.
3. You currently run one of the two sales departments of the Hayward Holdings Inc. Group in Europe. Do you think there are any significant differences regarding demand across countries?
Differences among work areas are significant, indeed. On the one hand, there is a higher concentration of manufacturers in the South of Europe, compared to Central and Northern Europe. On the other hand, the Southern and Eastern Europe pool trend involves less equipped pools than in the North, even though differences are growing smaller in this regard.
When it comes to products, Northern Europe already faces a greater demand for products with higher features, guarantees, and with more efficient electric energy consumption, while the South has not seen this trend flourish yet.
4. Hayward has a business model that is B2B based, focused on the distribution channel as a direct client. How do you manage to build end customer loyalty?
We hear the end customer’s voice from different perspectives. Naturally, we follow the annual Pool Indicator Per Sector reports of the ASOFAP [Spanish Association of Pool Industry Professionals], but, above all, we always try to stay in touch with the professional who has a direct line to the end user of the pool. Our Totally Hayward loyalty programme is crucial for this mission. This way, we try to understand their needs and concerns and respond to said needs.
5. What advantages are there to having a global partner such as Hayward?
Hayward is an international manufacturer, with several manufacturing centres in the USA, Europe and Asia, and sells its products to distributing partners across the world.
One of Hayward’s main advantages is having a global offer to equip all kinds of pools, both in the residential and public areas (ABS, pumps, filters with different technological features, pool cleaners, lights, water treatment and heating, etc.). Conversely, we have many years of experience and a world-renowned brand. Hayward is well-known for its product quality, and for being progressively innovative as regards improving them.
6. How do you implement sustainability and electric energy savings to your products?
Hayward invests into R+D incrementally, which allows us to develop more efficient products that consume less water and energy. Our commitment to variable speed pumps and filter cartridges, among others, is evidence of this, as they provide better filtration on top of ensuring water and electricity consumption savings.
7. Is an environmentally friendly pool possible?
Not only is it possible, it is the reality of our current market situation. According to ASOFAP, this is one of the end customers’ main concerns when it comes to deciding on a pool project. Hayward’s commitment is and has been for years to opt for and create equipment that is environmentally friendly, allows for cost saving—water and electric energy—and which provides better water quality. This year we have launched the ECOnnected POOL concept, a combination of the best equipment in matters of low consumption and the most environmentally friendly options.
8. Do you believe that the end customer is growing more and more sensitive to matters concerning the environment?
Yes, like we were discussing before, this is one of our priorities—according to ASOFAP as well—when it comes to addressing pool construction or renewal. More and more end customers are dealing with these issues and we should provide more information to the end customer, especially to the sales advisers who recommend the product, that is, the professionals, installers, and pool maintenance experts.
9. Digitisation and connected products are still very present in a brand’s value proposal. What is Hayward working on in this regard?
Hayward continuously works on improving its products to ensure they work together in a seamlessly integrated manner. In addition, we have developed platforms that allow us to manage and treat the pool remotely, through either Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or voice control. This way, we ensure that the pool’s water is balanced at all times. In this respect, our goal is to have a fully controlled pool, both by the individual and by the professional, and for it to also be low consumption and environmentally friendly.
10. What new products are you introducing during the next edition of Piscina & Wellness Barcelona?
Variable speed pumps will without a doubt be the highlight of our stand. We have lots to offer the market in matters of sustainable solutions, and we aspire to be the benchmark in variable speed.
Cristina Benavides, Piscina & Wellness Barcelona associate