Spa-rkling Success with George Street Furnishers

Luke Sheppard, Director at George Street Furnishers, shares an insight as to why a spa concept at your furniture retail business could be hot ticket for increased sales.

What would you say if including a spa space in your furniture store was a potential sale generator? The idea may be tricky to comprehend initially, but this article explores how such a concept is proving so successful. The concept came to life just before Covid, with Celtic Spas partnering up with Newport-based independent furniture retailer George Street Furnishers.

The pilot was to test the concept and see if it would bubble beyond expectations. Present day, spas are now the fourth largest supplier in George Street’s store, as Luke Sheppard, Director at George Street Furnishers explains: “We started selling spas a year before Covid. We measured the performance over a sustained period and found four-times the turnover at twice the profit margin of a leading leather supplier. It’s been a great success so far.”

Luke partnered up with Dave Viggers, UK Sales Director at Celtic Spas, who is well versed in the sector, with a background in bathroom design, and has operated a bathrooms concession in George Street Furnishers since 2004. After contemplating expanding their outdoor offer, Luke decided the time was right for George Street Furnishers, in partnership with Celtic Spas, to display, sell and install spas together, and it’s been quite the natural progression. “We have sold garden furniture in store for a number of years and we understood that consumers were focusing on the outdoors as the new room and thought spas were a fun and exciting product to sell and add to outdoor range.

“We started with four spas located bang in the middle of the leather department of our store. There was no water in them to start with, and now we have 11 spas, one swim spa and three saunas with a few with water in them. We have been on factory visits to the Czech Republic, some of the staff have been on training courses too, for example with Gecko – which makes components for spas. This is important as with it being a high-end item, knowing all the benefits and how the product works is paramount.”

While electricity costs can be seen as a potential block to sales, Luke said that there are ways to combat this, and with the product being a luxury item that is an investment to the home, consumers are still opting to enhance their outdoor space. “Spa sales did very well during Covid and while the electricity costs are not helping sales at the moment, they are still selling steadily. In fact, heat pump technology will help with many bolt-on systems to reduce energy consumption up to 75%, which is a great selling point. Also, the typical payback of a heat pump can be a few years, so consumers do have options when purchasing.

“Spas can help furniture stores improve footfall in spring and summer where garden centres tend do well. Spas level off the peaks and troughs where furniture stores lose footfall to garden centres. Plus, they create such an eye-catching statement in a store and have proved to be big head-turners when consumers are browsing. It’s been a fantastic journey so far.”

George Street Furnishers is planning to expand its outdoor offering even further too, again in partnership with Celtic Spas – which recently expanded into Pergolas with garden buildings and BBQs to come shortly in addition to their spas, garden furniture and saunas. For now, with proof of concept firmly established, the business’ look to build on their spa-rkling partnership. “Our relationship with George Street Furnishers is brilliant. We both recommend that all furniture stores large enough to add outdoor products to their portfolio should do so,” Dave said.

Luke added that the outdoor market will continue to evolve and revealed they recently held a successful competition to drive awareness of spas in furniture stores. A lucky Abergavenny couple won a £13,000 Hanscraft hot tub as part of the competition, which was in collaboration with the South Wales Argus.

“The garden is the new room, with consumers investing in their own private outdoor leisure facilities, including their own bars, saunas and spas,” Luke said. “We know this market will continue to grow exponentially in the UK and spas are a fun and exciting product to sell, easy to install with great ROI for furniture stores. In fact spas provide twice the pound per square foot value compared to any of our leading furniture brands in store.”

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