Retail giant Leslie’s
Poolmart is expanding its presence in the Lone Star
The Phoenix-based firm has acquired Warehouse
Pools , which has 24 retail stores in south Texas. The deal was
finalized on Dec. 31.
Warehouse, a family-owned company in business since 1982, serves a
number of larger markets, including Houston metro, Austin and San
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“We’re really excited about the acquisition,”
said Larry Hayward, Leslie’s chairman/CEO. “It was no
small task, but it will fit really well with our business model.
We’ve really admired the people and teams they have put
together in their stores, how they go to market and how they take
care of the customer, so it’s a natural fit as we grow our
Executives of Warehouse Pools also are excited about the
“We’ve known Leslie’s for many years and respect
that they, too, are committed to quality, value and outstanding
customer service,” said John Andrews, president of Warehouse
Pools in Houston. “I believe that our teams’ strengths
will be complementary to the combined businesses.”
As part of the sale, the Andrews family has exited the company.
However, the approximate 260 Warehouse employees have been added to
the Leslie’s staff, which includes upwards of 4,000 during
the busy season.
While the fate of the staff is certain, how Leslie’s will
bring the Warehouse brand into its fold is still unclear.
“They have some great products and so we need to be
thoughtful as we work through those decisions because they have a
really good brand, too,” Hayward explained. “We are
doing a complete evaluation of their product line. The goal is to
offer consumers the best things, be open-minded and end up with the
best of both worlds. In the end, it’s a really great problem
The deal also included the warehouse and corporate offices of
Ram Chemical and
Supply , which manufactures pool and spa chemicals. This, too,
will be examined before Leslie’s determines how best to move
forward with those products. In the meantime, operations will
function as normal, Hayward said.
Texas now is host to 171 Leslie’s stores, more than any other
state in the United States. The region serves as an ideal location
for growth, Hayward said, and the company anticipates opening an
additional nine locations there in 2013. All told, Leslie’s
plans to open at least 50 stores this year, though their exact
locations were not disclosed. The firm also will add two commercial
centers to the existing 30.
The agreement also marks the retailer’s fourth acquisition in
just over two years.
In 2012, Leslie’s bought six retail outlets from the Phoenix
construction firm Shasta Pools & Spas , a Pool & Spa
News Top Builder. Additionally, it opened 63 new stores last
The year prior, the company grew its commercial assets with the
acquisition of Phoenix-based Jasper’s Clear Water Pool
Wholesale Supply Co. And in 2010, it took over the Austin-area
retailer Solutions by Self Chem . This expansion was made
possible, in part, thanks to funds from the London-based private
equity firm CVC
Capital Partners , which purchased an undisclosed amount of
Leslie’s minority shares in 2010.
While some industry members have expressed frustration over the
company’s aggressive expansion, others view Leslie’s in
a more positive light.
“Leslie’s has a good program, plan and
structure,” said Penny Johnson, whose firm, Johnson Pools & Spa s, sits a mere 2½ miles
from a Leslie’s store. “They are part of the industry
and not the enemy,” added the Huntsville, Ala.-based
By opening additional stores throughout the country, Johnson
believes Leslie’s is providing consumers with even more
brick-and-mortar alternatives to shopping online. In fact, she
said, it’s a lack of professionalism that hurts the industry,
and Leslie’s has done a good job of upholding a high
standard. Plus, some retailers are still operating the way they did
20 years ago, and that approach won’t work in this economic
climate and age of technology.
“You have to realize it could be anyone who moves into your
territory; it doesn’t have to be a Leslie’s,” she
said. “The difference is, they have the processes,
procedures, structure and store hours to meet consumer demand, and
that is the real threat. If you are up to speed in your own
industry and not just understand, but actually utilize, the
opportunities available, like social media, you will
Founded in 1963 as a one-man pool supply operation in a suburb of
Los Angeles, Leslie’s now operates more than 770 retail and
commercial service stores in 35 states.