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Britian’s biggest sunbed chain has launched its latest salon at a highly anticipated new Scottish retail park.

The high-spec salon was among the first outlets to start welcoming customers to the complex in Barrhead following a £350,000 investment by Indigo Sun.

Formerly the site of a pet food factory, the Barrhead Retail Park site had lain vacant for 15 years prior to its transformation – and is now set to see a host of big name retail and food outlets open in the coming weeks.

Frank Taylor, founder and CEO of the family firm, which now operates more than 100 salons across the UK, said the £15m new site was ideal for Indigo Sun’s ongoing expansion ambitions.

He said: “The Barrhead site is perfect for us. It serves a large catchment area, offer extensive parking and the variety of businesses based here ensures that it will be a hugely popular destination built around customer convenience.

“Everything now is about location. We are looking for retail sites in towns that are on main arterial routes, offer free parking and have access to a diverse range of other outlets – Barrhead Retail Park ticks all of the boxes.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this rejuvenation of such an important site for the town. It gives us a really tremendous presence in this part of Scotland and we intend to build on that.”

The new salon, fitted out with 13 hi-tech sunbeds and a high-end beach club aesthetic, becomes the fourth in a cluster within a 10-mile radius including Paisley, Linwood and Glasgow. Across the four salons there are 24 staff.

Photo: Frank Taylor, founder and CEO of Indigo Sun
Photo Credit: Indigo Sun

Indigo Sun’s ongoing expansion has been fuelled by smart investments in similar sites across the UK, with its salons adding to the diversity of locations which are typically anchored by a big -name supermarket, augmented by food retailers and other outlets including pharmacies and gyms.

The reinvention of the Barrhead site – a former Nestle Purina factory which lay derelict for 15 years – is a major boon for the area. It includes a new Lidl, B&M, Starbucks, Gateway Health and the first Scottish branch of renowned US food outlet, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen.

Earlier this year, Indigo Sun reported its most successful year ever, recording a turnover of more than £26m and almost £5.6m profit in its latest financial year.

During lockdown Frank and his senior team drew up ambitious expansion plans to ensure Indigo Sun emerged from the pandemic on the best possible footing.

As the country returned to normal, the tanning business was serving up to 140,000 people a week at peak time and figures showed typical customers were investing £500 per year into tanning.

Frank added: “We’ve proven that when we put our salons into convenient locations, close to a wide array of other outlets and with easy parking, the British people love treating themselves to a safe and healthy tan.

“Another reason our salons are growing in popularity is because of the cost and complexity of the equipment. Modern sunbeds now have features such as Bluetooth so that customers can connect their phones and play their own choice of music.

“They also have sophisticated aircon systems and sensitivity settings for specific skin types. Our salons also have more sunbeds installed to reduce waiting times and dedicated staff with an in-depth knowledge on the use of sunbeds.”

With its younger customer base and large foot fall, Indigo Sun is now a prime target for retail developments like Barrhead, which are within town or city limits, but sit outside of traditional town centres.

Across the UK the firm, which is headquartered in Stirling, is targeting its expansion on towns or populations centres of at least 100,000 people. In bigger cities, it will look to create clusters of salons, for more streamlined management.

Serial entrepreneur Frank set up the business after running a successful chain of video rental stores.
Early on he spotted the threat posed by DVDs and online streaming, so exited the business and
transformed his shops into tanning salons instead.

The first was launched in Stirling in 1993. He is a passionate advocate of safe tanning and supporter of industry organisation The Sunbed Association, which seeks to battle misinformation about tanning salons and indoor tanning equipment. He also highlights the health-giving properties of safe tanning, particularly with regard to vitamin D.

Currently stretching from Inverness to London, Indigo Sun is closing in on 100 tanning venues across the UK and employs 950 people. Most of the salons are 1000-2000 sq ft and on average offer 12 tanning booths.

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