TANNING tycoon Frank Taylor is looking to push further into England this year after record sales at his high street chain saw turnover top £11 million.
Taylor’s Stirling-based Indigo Sun salon empire is already the largest wholly owned tanning chain in the UK, but he believes there is significant potential to grow, particularly in the English market which he said was highly fragmented and less competitive than in Scotland.
Salon numbers are expected to grow by around 20 per cent this year to 60, with the bulk of the additions in England.
The expansion plans come after a year of strong growth for the business with its main Indigo Sun Retail company seeing turnover rise by 18 per cent to £9.87m in the year to 30 September with pre-tax profits rising to £2.27m from £1.47m.
Together with sales from a sister company, Taylor said total turnover for the chain had now topped £11m.
Taylor said the business was benefiting from heavy investment in recent years in refurbishment and rolling out a uniform look across the salons. Around £1m has also been invested in new sunbeds.
For the new salon openings, Taylor is increasingly looking to move into better locations in high streets. “We want to be alongside the major retailers such as Greggs, bookmakers and pharmacies and we also want our shops to be as professionally run as those kind of businesses,” he said.
Taylor added that the difficulties faced by many high street retailers had opened up opportunities for his firm to take on prime sites: “As a service business we are not affected by online shopping at all.”
Although the tanning industry has suffered from a poor reputation, Taylor said regulation in both Scotland and south of the Border was a positive development.
“We invest a lot in staff training to be a responsible operator and have a Challenge 25 policy in place to try and ensure under-18s don’t slip through the net.”
Staff numbers rose to 273 from 250 during the year and Taylor said he welcomed the introduction of the National Living Wage later this year as it would provide a level playing field in the industry.
Taylor built a chain of more than 30 Video Drive-In outlets in Scotland before diversifying into the tanning salon market. He also owned a number of motor accessory shops but is now focusing his efforts solely on the tanning business.
Since 2011, under-18s have been banned from using sunbeds in England, Scotland and Wales amid concerns over skin cancer.