Water Babies, specialists in baby and toddler swimming, plans to open four new swim centres in Europe and Asia this year.
The franchise, which has been operating on a business model that relies on hiring pool space, has decided to adapt its model by building its own centres rather than renting space, firstly in Shenzhen and Zhuhai, China, then in Stirling, Scotland and finally in the German city of Munster.
Water Babies teaches babies from birth how to swim in warm water in around 560 centres, mainly across the UK. The business usually operates from leisure centres and gym facilities, however the company is increasingly finding it difficult to find facilities of high enough quality for their classes.
Chris Broadbent from Water Babies explains that one difficulty to acquiring space is down to the fact that “we also insist on using pools that are 30 degrees or 32 degrees for babies that are under 12 weeks.” This means the company is often only able to operate out of privately-owned pools.
This move, which will be completed with Italian pool building firm Myrtha Pools, signals a transformation in the company’s future plans.
“In building our own centres, we can have definite guaranteed access to the right quality of pool for the long-term sustainability of our business, and the best tailor-made environment possible for our clients,” says Broadbent.
The company’s long-term vision is to have a network of Water Babies Centres from which it operates.