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Corporate Interior enters swimming pool market

Published:Wednesday | August 12, 2015 | 5:20 PM
Winston Barrett is seated on the edge of a model fibreglass pool during a recent visit to iGUi Pools Brazil in Sao Paulo.

Corporate Interiors Limited, a two-decade-old office furnishing company, is entering the swimming pool market through a new subsidiary called iGUi Pools Jamaica Limited.

On Wednesday, Winston Barrett, who is CEO for both companies, said iGUi Jamaica has been appointed distributor for S„o Paulo-headquartered iGUi Pools Brazil - first supplying fibreglass pools in Jamaica, with potential to become master distributor within the Caribbean.

Locally, he said, the company aims to sell up to 50 pools per month.

Barrett's partners in iGUi Jamaica are his wife Marguerite Barrett, and architect and planner Gavern Tate. The company operates from the Liguanea Post Mall in Kingston.

Starting with an initial investment of $15 million in the local subsidiary, Corporate Interiors hopes to grow the market sufficiently to provide the necessary scale for the Brazilian poolmaker to consider investing in a manufacturing base in Jamaica.

"If the market is big enough here, they [iGUi Brazil] will open a factory," he said, noting that this would facilitate sales to other Caribbean markets.

"Once we get established in the market here, the pools will no longer be imported but will be fabricated here and exported to an expanded franchise area covering the English-speaking Caribbean and Panama," Barrett added.

On its website, iGUi Pools indicates it was founded 19 years ago in South Brazil, and considers itself one of the largest fibreglass swimming pool manufacturers worldwide. It operates 18 plants in North America, South America, and Europe that produce fibreglass pools and pool equipment, and its products are sold through 560 pool dealers in 25 countries.

The name iGUi means 'water', and is derived from the indigenous language of a Brazilian tribe, the company said.

According to Barrett, Corporate Interiors was approached by iGUi to distribute its pools. Within the Caribbean, the company is already present in CuraÁao, Trinidad and Panama, and had Jamaica next on its list for regional expansion, he said.

The pools are offered in different designs, colours, and sizes and comes with water-purifying systems and the option of solar-powered water heaters. The can be installed above or below ground.

Corporate Interior's core business is office and resort furnishings. Another subsidiary, Global Cellular, operates as a dealer for mobile phone company Digicel. The new business line supplying pools is expected to contribute 50 per cent of revenue to the group by year five, Barrett said, but did not disclose how much the company turns over annually now, citing competitive reasons.

The pool market is currently said to be dominated by Harris Pools and Tropicool of around nine players, but iGUi Jamaica will be the only local supplier of fibreglass pools, according to Barrett. He adds that he will be reaching out to the current pool distributors to partner with iGUi Jamaica as sub-agents.

The company is also targeting sales at mid-income developments, with Barrett noting that there are about 200 prospects in Kingston alone.

In St Catherine, he is also in discussion with the Home Owners Association of the 960- unit Caribbean Estate gated complex. That project is awaiting approval from the St Catherine Parish Council, Barrett said. He is also pursuing business leads in the resort market.

Barrett says iGUi Jamaica has partnered with National Commercial Bank (NCB) to provide home equity loans for the pools it sells.

"NCB is on board with up to 90 per cent financing for qualified purchasers who can use the equity in their homes as security for the purchase," he said.

The iGUi pools will cost between $700,000 and $2.5 million to purchase and install, for pool sizes ranging from 9x9 feet to 32x15 feet, and each comes with a 15-year warranty, said Barrett.

Comparatively, a representative of Harris Pools - said by Corporate Interiors to be the market leader - quoted prices for construction of its cement pools at $5.5 million for a 15x30-foot pool to $6.7 million for a 20x40-foot pool.

Barrett noted that installation of a fibreglass pool takes between one to two weeks, depending on ground conditions, while a concrete pool may take three months to complete.

Comprised of plastic moulds of fibre and resin, iGUi Jamaica said the filter system for the pools it sells enables suction, drainage and water circulation to be done without pressure. The pools also feature a control panel, hydrotherapy jets, underwater LED lights, an automatic vacuum, handrails and a cleaning kit.

Optional features include a water heater system - whether electric or solar panels - an ultraviolet module for killing microbes, and a waterfall.

"We have had strong interest in our pools from developers of luxury villas and homes, both in Kingston and the north coast who see the opportunity to offer their clients a new dimension," Barrett said.