Point-of-Use Boosts U.K. Water Cooler Market

Zenith Intl. market report shows balance of U.K. water cooler dynamics continues to shift in favor of point-of-use coolers

Last year proved to be a mixed year for the U.K. water cooler industry. While plumbed-in mains water coolers, known as point of use, maintained solid growth, they were unable to offset the decline in bottled coolers. The total market fell by 2%.

Food and drink consultancy Zenith Intl.’s “2010 U.K. Water Cooler” market report, its 19th annual edition, shows that there were a total of 682,000 coolers installed at the end of 2009.

Although this is the second year in a row that the overall installed base has seen a decline, the rate has slowed. Considering the challenging economic climate and the absence of a long hot summer in 2009, this is positive news for the industry.

“The concerted efforts of operators to maintain high levels of customer service, to promote the hydration benefits of water and to increase their focus on profitability benefited the industry in 2009,” said Zenith Director Mark Groves.”

The balance of U.K. water cooler dynamics continues to shift in favor of point-of-use coolers. With virtually all bottled water cooler companies now also offering this type of unit, its share more than doubled from 18% five years ago to 42% in December 2009.

A highly competitive sector, the leading distributors continue to jockey for position, with the top two players switching places in 2009. Despite four of the top five companies experiencing declines, many cooler companies are growing faster than the overall market. The top 20 firms achieved a compound annual growth rate of 7% between 2003 and 2006, but this fell to 1% from 2006 to 2009.

Driven primarily by point-of-use placement, Zenith forecasts that U.K. water coolers will see a return to moderate growth in 2010, reaching 715,000 units by the end of 2014.

Zenith Intl.

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