The West Europe water cooler market, which scarcely existed 25 years ago, climbed to a record 2.78 million units installed at the end of 2012, according to a new report published.
Recent growth, however, has slowed to 1% a year and there has been a major shift in the types of machine used. The market is still dominated by bottled water coolers, with a 58% share, but their number has fallen in each of the last five years to 1.6 million. In contrast, mains water point-of-use coolers have gained share each year, rising by 6% in 2012 to 1.2 million.
The UK and Italy remain the largest markets, with a combined 41% share.
The report states that water coolers are now an essential service for staff well-being in many businesses, but growth has undoubtedly been hit by higher unemployment, higher taxes and lower government spending.
The report forecasts continued overall growth, taking the total to 3.2 million in 2017, provided companies focus their efforts on innovative and sustainable products, customer service and the importance of hydration. Point-of-use coolers are expected to reach 50% of the market by 2017.