Water Babies global expansion underway

Since it was co-founded by Paul Thompson in 2002, Water Babies has grown into the world’s largest baby swim school, teaching more than 52,000 babies each week through a network of family businesses across the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand and China.

The unique Water Babies concept teaches babies as young as one day old to control their breathing, instead of relying on reflexes when going underwater, thereby “negating the risk of water inhalation and giving babies a sense of being fully in control”. At the heart of Water Babies, is the desire to give generations of children a lifetime skill that helps them develop cognitive and physical abilities, and is also memorable, inspiring and fun.

Throughout its international network, it passes on its expertise and is leading the way in training programmes that have set industry standards. Their training academy forms the basis of the British Standard for teaching swimming to parents and babies. It is also the only swim company to have its own photography unit, taking more than 250,000 individual underwater shots last year alone. Until recently, Water Babies has been reliant on leisure centres and other leased aquatic spaces, that have had to be upgraded to maintain their key USP of ensuring a very high standard of water treatment and levels of service. However, the brand has sought to strengthen is differentiation in the market, while at the same time creating a solution that will ensure consistency that is in line with their high standards to provide world – class quality.

The solution was to develop, design and construct bespoke aquatic centres to house Water Babies lessons, as well as aqua natal classes for their sister company, WaterBumps. rpa:group has been involved in an immersive process of design for these aquatic centres on an international scale, with their Design studio working closely alongside the entire Water Babies operations team, to develop the interior environment concept. James Breaks, Director of Design at rpa:group ellaborates; “This fundamental ground-up approach to design allowed the team to consider and collaborate on every individual aspect of the experience. Its brand ethos was meticulously interrogated to ensure both physical and psychological customer needs were incorporated within the customer journey.”

Comments Paul Thompson of Water Babies, “Working alongside rpa:group has enabled us to take a thorough look at our current existing commercial success and to evolve it to create what we believe to be an innovative, enduring and truly creative vision for the future of our centres.” In addition to bespoke teaching pools, the changing experience has been re-designed, with retail, F&B and leisure facilities further enhancing the customer journey. The first centres will both be in China – in Shenzhen and Zhuhai – closely followed by Stirling in Scotland and Munster in Germany, where the business has recently purchased land for development.

rpa:group’s Project Management division is ensuring the timely and cost efficient delivery of the centres in both Stirling and Germany. Facilities have also been earmarked in Exeter and in the Bristol area, which will be the flagship aquatic centre, close to their existing West Country Head Office base in Honiton. The results are set to define the new standards for this exciting revolution in leisure experiences.

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