The total UK water cooler market was worth £109m in 2012 and, while it is set to decline this year and next, is set to return to growth by 2015, new data shows.
The annual conference of the British Water Cooler Association (BWCA) also heard that the POU (point of use or mains-fed coolers) market is, for the first time, accounting for slightly over half the market compared with bottled water coolers.
The UK leads Western Europe in terms of the number of installed water cooler units, with 21% of bottled water units and 30% of mains-fed coolers. The market for bottled cooler units had dropped from 2008 to 2011, but the decline is beginning to plateau, according to the findings.
But, despite accounting for half the volume of cooler installations, in 2012 bottled water revenue stood at £77m compared with just £32m for POU.
The bottled water cooler market, the data appears to show, is subject to consolidation by the top five companies who now account for 56% of the market, up from just 45% in 2008. The POU sector also shows similar patterns, with the top five companies holding 62% of the overall business, up slightly from the 58% held by the top five players just four years ago.
The office sector is by far the biggest segment of the market, with nearly two thirds (62%) of the overall market. Institutions come second with 21% of the share. The segments with room for growth are Horeca (currently 7%), domestic (3%) and retail (1%).