From part shareholder to full owner

Chris Keen (lifePR) ( Strass im Zillertal, )
The fast pace of life and consequent need for deceleration is driving an ever-stronger demand for wellness retreats, providing the essential recharge or relaxation to cope with the stresses and strains of modern life.

Medical Spa & Wellness Group with its key brand INViiON® (Design/Planning/Equipment) supports therapeutic and touristic institutions as well as private homes with high-end wellness solutions to respond to this trend.

Mr. Keen, what is the background of MSWG and where do you see the future of the company?

MSWG combines the skills, talents and experience of over 30 years of providing outstanding creativity, design, consultancy and high quality manufacturing for the global wellness industry. From its roots in Tirol, a region which is often considered one of the wellness capitals of the world with >360 Wellness Resorts, MSWG is able to pass on the benefit of this solid wellness cultural understanding to projects across the globe, naturally always adapting the concepts to fit each of the local environments.

Many touristic resorts are increasingly noticing this demand and consequently we foresee significant need for specialists such as ourselves to support clients in creating the optimal environments for their guests.

Many regions are still at an earlier stage in this development and consequently need to understand that successful concepts will lead to a sustained profitable impact on their investment. Other more mature markets are now seeking the next wave of innovation to once again retain the loyalty of their customers and provide high value propositions – Here, MSWG can use both its know-how and creativity to ensure the optimal solutions.

People seek rest and relaxation from everyday stress, wish to remain fit and healthy. Key symptoms are many. Where do you see the main challenges and themes for Spa & Wellness?

Today’s pace of life and heavy demands on society are becoming more and more apparent. Stress alone is known to cause up to 70% of illness and therefore individuals are very aware that actions need to be taken to prevent more serious issues arising.

Burn Out is a well-used term these days and the classical medical approach will not be able to cope with the high level of sufferers. Alternatives such as wellness retreats act both as preventive and reactive environments to help those in danger of symptoms. For many, a short break at a wellness resort is ideal to recharge the batteries, however demand from day spas and private homes for their own relaxation space is noticeably growing.

What can MSWG do for the Spa & Wellness Areas? Which are the key products and services you offer?

MSWG is able to provide a complete solution from concept design, technical planning all the way through to equipment manufacture, installation and service. Consequently depending on the client’s needs, we may play various roles as the overall vision of what the client is seeking is turned to reality. Regardless of the role, we aim to be seen as value enhancers who are not driven by short term gains but rather a long term partner of the client in achieving an optimal and long term sustainable asset for the client.

Many of our hotel clients have been partners for 20 years and it is with great pride that we regularly assist them with renovations or expansions as part of a long term plan to offer their guests an even better experience. We are in long term project business and rely on the strong references from satisfied customers – consequently our partner approach is critical and will only be rewarded with a sustained commitment to quality.

It is important to emphasise that during these times of ever increasing hotel bookings online, images of wonderful wellness areas can be a key driving force between booking one hotel over another.

You were part shareholder however recently taken over as CEO and sole owner of MSWG. What was the motivation behind your investment?

In my previous career in International Investment Banking, I had the fortune to be involved in the financing of hundreds of companies from various industries across the globe as well as in later years joining the Board of certain companies. It was an exciting career which taught me about the successes and pitfalls of various business models and which companies/industries had greater chances to succeed.

After setting up my own investment platform in 2012, I was searching for strong local companies that had in my view good market positioning, a professional and experienced team, interesting product and above all the potential to grow in an expanding market.

With the wellness market showing consistent 6% growth since 2007, it was clear to me that the market opportunity for MSWG was good off the back of its strong legacy and innovative product range. With my co-partner, Heinz Schletterer, also requiring a successor, it became an obvious choice for me to get involved both as a shareholder and operational director.

Do you have completely new plans for MSWG? Will there be new strategic directions? Where do you see the business in 10 years?

Over the last 2 years, together with Heinz Schletterer, we have spent considerable time and effort consolidating our position in our core markets in Mainland Europe and bringing out new innovations relating to new product lines and also energy efficiency initiatives. Furthermore, with my global network we have endeavored to widen our presence to very significant and as yet relatively untapped markets for MSWG, such as the UK and USA.

With our product portfolio now firmly established, my focus for the coming years is to raise our profile in a number of these exciting markets. Our global partner network is expanding fast and I look forward to working closely with them to deliver exceptional products to their respective local markets. We are already receiving strong accolades for a number of recent projects in some of these new markets, e.g. the lead article published by European Spa Magazine on the Brimstone Spa in the Lake District, and therefore look forward to deepening our presence in the coming years.

In terms of where I see us in 10 years, clearly I hope that we will have secured long term partnerships with clients across the globe and we will have also made valuable contributions to delivering prevention focused wellness concepts to societies in multiple regions.
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