British Water Cooler Association (BWCA) chairman Jon Wicks and general manager Phillipa Atkinson-Clow spoke with FoodBev ‘s Martin White about the latest developments affecting the cooler industry at the annual BWCA Conference & Trade Show.
Wicks told FoodBev that the key theme of the Conference – Insight to Change, Learn, Unlearn and Relearn – aimed to help inform businesses whether they needed to change their operations in preparation for Brexit, and how the industry can ensure that it maintains its reputation for sustainability when climate change is one of the main issues for consumers.
Wicks also informed FoodBev that last summer’s hot weather helped to drive the growth of the market, as did the increasing numbers of employers providing facilities which dispense water as healthy hydration is playing a more important role in modern day offices, while the increased global awareness of the importance of drinking water and staying hydrated also played a key role.
“Firstly, as we all know we had a fantastic summer last year, and when people are hot they tend to consume more water, so that was quite a large driver for the market. Secondly, in terms of employers providing facilities which provide cool water, I think the agenda is moving up to look after their employees (in this way).”
At the time of publication, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is still on the table, and we asked Wicks what a no deal exit could mean for the UK’s water cooler industry.
“From an industry perspective, a no-deal Brexit will have an impact on employment and bringing people into the country, and obviously when it’s growing, the industry is going to require more employees. Secondly, we have an exchange rate issue. We don’t know where that is going to go, so potentially the equipment we buy in could become more expensive, which will drive prices up to our customers going forward.
“But if we just take the industry as a whole, because we’re very UK-focused, I don’t think we’re really going to see a big impact beyond pricing and labour. We’re very lucky in that regard.”
In 2017, the BWCA launched its 5 for 5 Sustainability Pledge, which aimed to ensure that members addressed five core aspects of their business over a five year period: Environmental sustainability, water management, social sustainability, financial sustainability and providing a supportive workplace.
When asked what the association could do over the next year to further promote sustainability, Atkinson-Clow said: “I think that Lord Deben mentioned that there was a lot more that the industry could do to shout about our good credentials.
“I think as an association, we already have that, especially through our 5 for 5 programme. What I think members really need to do now is to shout about it themselves within their own marketing programmes.
Presented and edited by: Martin White
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