Spa Industry in U.K. Sees Growth

Since the beginning of April 2007, there has been a 6% increase in the number of spas—defined as a business that offers professionally supervised treatments, to enhance health, well-being and relaxation and has a minimum of five treatment rooms—operating in the United Kingdom, according to the newly published 2008 State of the UK Spa Industry Report. This report into spa sector growth, undertaken for SPATEC by The Leisure Database Company in March 2008, has revealed strong growth in the sector.

Twenty-four new spas have opened in the last 12 months since the inaugural State of the U.K. Spa Industry Report was launched at SPATEC 2007. These new spas are located throughout the United Kingdom and have provided an extra 173 treatment rooms to UK consumers for their spa experiences.

The majority of new spas that have opened are from chain operators in the hotel sector, although salon and day spa sectors have also seen some new spas opening. The trend in new openings has been towards chain spas rather than single site or franchise operations.

David Minton, director of The Leisure Database Company, says, “The spa sector is growing steadily and the hotel operators are recognizing the opportunities to be gained from investing now. We believe, however, that there is plenty more consumer demand for spas at all the price points and expect to see further sustained growth in this sector.”

In addition, the report has identified nine spas that have closed since the end of March 2007. The closures are spread across chains, franchises and single sites and are not restricted to small spas.

The sector has also seen an increase in demand during the last 12 months. The estimated number of spa treatments purchased in the last year has increased by 4% to 6.35 million treatments per annum.

In recent years, more men have shown an interest in, and become consumers of, spa treatments. The research findings confirm this trend. U.K. spa operators estimate that their client bases comprise 76% female and 24% male clients. Interestingly, operators recognize that some male consumers still feel uncomfortable in a spa environment.

Spa consultant Berni Hawkins states, “The public has more knowledge of spas than ever before, but many still question their value for money. Operators must therefore stop selling the features of spas and concentrate on the benefits they offer if they are to attract more users. By customizing service and employing a strong consultation process, operators can increase their knowledge of the guest and offer truly prescriptive treatments and services. As a result, guests experience real value and spa becomes more of a lifestyle choice. For the industry, it means more guests, more revenue and more growth.”

There are now 420 operational spas in the United Kingdom with five or more treatment rooms. A further four spas are temporarily closed for refurbishment, and there are 4,814 therapists are employed throughout the spa industry. This represents an increase of some 243 therapists since April 2007 to manage the increasing demand at U.K. spas.

The 2008 State of the U.K. Spa Report is available to purchase from The Leisure Database Company.

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