This week Spabreaks.com was placed second in the 16th annual Fast Track 100, published in The Sunday Times and sponsored by Virgin. The list ranks Britain’s fastest growing privately held companies by sales growth over the last three years … So now that we have had time for it all to settle in, Founder, Abi Wright, explains a little more about what it took to get this far and what the future holds for Spabreakers!
What has been the most rewarding thing so far about developing Spabreaks.com?
There have been so many things – watching the company go from £250,000 turnover to £11 million in four years, growing the team from two of us in a tiny room to 38 at last count, and particularly in the last two years being able to develop a number of industry firsts – notably our online booking service, our Recovery Retreats for anyone with cancer, and Spa for All – to open up the industry to anyone who has previously felt marginalised for reasons beyond their control.
What has been the hardest thing about it?
Trying to compete against discount voucher models and maintain a luxury customer service feel which has been totally against the trend. Also recruiting is always tricky – finding people who genuinely believe in the bigger picture. I always find it frustrating having to wait to develop everything by taking small steps – we have so many ideas and I always want to develop them now!
What does it mean to you to be in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 2012?
It has been a focus of mine for the past four years since starting the company – I always hoped we would be in it at some point, but I never dreamed we would be number two!
You were advised against setting up a luxury brand in recession – what would you say to anyone else wanting to start a company in a tricky economic climate?
Providing you have drive, motivation and a strong belief in what you are doing, I genuinely believe you can do anything. You have to be thick skinned at times and prepared to put in the hard work and dedication. Focus on being different as well – constantly reinvent yourself and create new ideas so you stay at the forefront of people’s minds.
You’re a mum and entrepreneur … how do you fit it all in?
I basically don’t have a social life. I am not a good friend any more – unless it is by email, text, or phone calls on long train journeys, I never have time to see people and catch up. My weekends are devoted to my children so I don’t want to be out on a Saturday night because I want to be with them, and I don’t want to feel rubbish on a Sunday morning. What gives, ultimately, is just being you.
What do you think is the key to your success so far?
My team is absolutely key to success. They are the people who inspire me as friends, because they are the people I want to work with – I enjoy seeing them develop and grow as people and in their roles as time goes on, and also on a professional level – because they are all brilliant at their jobs and none of it would happen without them. I honestly believe that it isn’t about one person, it is about the team. Extending from that of course, our suppliers who have supported us and been a part of Spabreaks.com from the outset and new suppliers who are joining and play a vital role, and our customers who are an active part of our success as well – it is their feedback that drives our progression and innovation.
What are your plans for 2013?
In short – to hit targets again and maintain the same kind of growth we have seen so far. We will be launching our first brochure at the start of the year and I want to develop that further going forward. I want to reach out into other areas of the market and customers who wouldn’t usually consider a spa break … and I would quite like a helicopter to get me to work quicker!!
How have you been celebrating?
I was lucky enough to be in Dubai with friends and checking out a few new spas when the list was published, so that was a nice way to celebrate! I am also looking forward to the Christmas party with my team, and of course, meeting Richard Branson next year!
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