Pod-maker Armadilla fulfils largest-ever order for education sector with flying colours

Midlothian-based Armadilla, which makes a range of eco-friendly outdoor pods, has stopped traffic by fulfilling the largest single order for its education-focused offering, and says it sees great potential to expand this part of the business.

The family-owned firm – a 2020 winner of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of its innovation – was founded in 2010 by MD Archie Hunter, who has a background in farming and hospitality, and his son Ross, a design engineer who is the firm’s chief executive, and a serial inventor whose other business offerings include Whisky Frames.

It explains that it started out building and supplying luxury pods to hotels and hospitality groups and has diversified into working with schools. On that note it has just transported six of its specially built and designed sustainable Education Pods (EdPods) from its base in Bonnyrigg to Freemantles School in Woking.

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Midlothian luxury pod firm Armadilla grows order book
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The order for the Surrey school for children and young people with complex social communication needs is Armadilla’s largest to date from an education-provider, and comes after it has also supplied schools in a number of areas across the UK including Northumberland, London, and the Home Counties.

Archie Hunter said: “We’ve been supplying our studio pods to schools across the UK for a number of years, and we receive great feedback. With more than 30,000 schools in the UK, this is a significant and growing market for us.

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"It’s remarkable how useful schools find our EdPods, for example as chill down rooms for children on the autism spectrum, as a sensory space, as a structured play area, or as a reading room.

"We’re continuing to develop this market and see considerable expansion in fulfilling a rapidly increasing volume of orders. It has been great to be able to supply our largest order so far from the education sector to Freemantles School… which looks after the needs of a lot of young, neuro-diverse people.

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Colourful convoy: Armadilla founder and managing director Archie Hunter with the EdPods as they prepare to leave Bonnyrigg. Picture: Colin Hattersley Photography.

"The school was particularly attracted to the flexibility of our pods. They were designed to meet their specific requirements, including the request to have them painted in a range of rainbow colours.”

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Mr Hunter added that schools have an increasing statutory requirement to provide education to children of all abilities.

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Armadilla’s EdPod has been designed to help meet these obligations, and Mr Hunter added that the product arrives ready for “plug and play”, while its modular design means it can easily be relocated within the school campus or moved to another site.

Two of the pods in situ at Freemantles School in Surrey. Picture: contributed.
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Freemantles School’s head teacher Justin Price said: “One of the things we love about the pods from Armadilla is their flexibility. We’ll initially be using them as a temporary measure to support us in accommodating an extra class ahead of a new building being constructed. For this period we’ll be losing our sensory circuit space for a classroom. We can use the pods to replicate the sensory experiences that we offer.

“In the longer term, we’re considering the pods for a range of options, including library, music space and one has been earmarked as an office for the executive headteacher.”

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Armadilla says it has 35 staff, and supplies clients from diverse sectors across the UK and overseas, with those on the hospitality side including Riverbeds in Ballachulish, Jason Vale’s spa retreats in the Algarve, and Glamping GMBH in Germany.

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