Arran Aromatics is sweet on expansion
Originally published: 26.08.2009
Arran Aromatics is planning a dramatic expansion of its retail business as the soap to candles producer looks to continue its recovery from the financial problems which resulted in a boardroom upheaval earlier this year.
Iain Pittman, the turnaround expert who became chief executive in February, said the company is preparing to open a series of stores under a plan that could see it expand from one outlet to 12 over the next few years. In a vote of confidence in the prospects for retailers in Glasgow the company is planning to double its presence in the city to two stores.
Working with the directors including Janet Russell, who co-founded Arran Aromatics in 1988, Pittman has developed a strategy under which the company will target affluent areas and tourist centres.
The expansion drive will start in the tourist hotspot of Gretna, where the company will open a store this Saturday.
Directors are finalising the details of a site in the prestige Buchanan Galleries complex in Glasgow city centre. They are also looking for a store in Edinburgh.
While no fixed timetable has been set, Pittman confirmed that the company expects to open its first stores south of the border in due course.
The move comes amid signs that Arran Aromatics is benefitting from the improvement in consumer sentiment which helped power relatively strong growth in retail sales in the last quarter.
Pittman said group sales are up on the same time last year. "We've got a shop in Princes Square (Glasgow). It has struggled with the downturn in retail but it's now picking up, it's now ahead of last year and we're looking forward because Arran is viewed as a gift product."
The growth push is also partly intended to take advantage of the opportunities created by the slowdown in property markets.
"At the moment we are talking to various surveyors and outlets.
Growing sales is a key element of the recovery strategy for Arran Aromatics. With more than 60 staff on Arran this is the biggest employer on the island.