Leslie’s Poolmart earlier this month began the first stage of its 2011 expansion efforts with the official grand openings of new stores in key states such as Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, as well as other regions.
“Some of these markets have been hit hard on new-pool builds,” said Steven Ortega, executive vice president and CFO of Phoenix-based Leslie’s, “but not on the maintenance side. And our focus is on the pool owner.”
Overall, the company plans to open 49 new stores (in addition to the 30 it opened in 2010) across the country by late spring, officials said. Expansion is heaviest in the South and Sunbelt states, followed by the Southwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
In the Western United States, new stores are located in Long Beach, San Marcos and Yucaipa, Calif., as well as Gilbert, Ariz.
Leslie’s fundamental strategy of consistent growth received a boost late last summer when private equity firm CVC Capital Partners purchased an undisclosed number of minority shares in the company.
Meanwhile, the management of at least one local independent retailer, Maddy’s Pool Supplies in Gilbert, was largely unfazed by the news. Co-owner Lisa Sleezer noted her service, remodel and retail firm has experienced record months since November, even though another large pool supply chain entered the market earlier in the year.
“I’m not at all concerned,” Sleezer said. “There are more than 500,000 pools in the metro Phoenix area, so we’re going to be just fine.” In addition to new stores in Arkansas, the Carolinas, Oklahoma and Virginia, Leslie’s is expanding into Newnan, Ga., and the Florida cities of North Port, Sarasota and Tampa; a Belle Isle store also is being relocated.
Multiple industry sources in the Sunshine State report that new-pool building remains markedly down from the boom years of the mid-2000s. And in recent months, permits for the majority of Florida counties have been flat or only slightly up from 2010 figures, according to tracking service HBW Inc.
Leslie’s now operates 660 retail locations in 35 states.