Pod-maker Armadilla riding crest of wave with seven-figure deal to supply Wavegarden Scotland

Midlothian-based outdoor pod maker Armadilla is progressing what has been branded its “flagship project for Scotland” – a deal worth nearly £2 million to supply self-catering holiday units to forthcoming surfing attraction Wavegarden Scotland.

The family-owned manufacturer, which operates from Bonnyrigg, said it is providing 11 of its “Pods” products and eight “Waves” from its hospitality range to the inland surfing destination coming to the outskirts of Edinburgh. Armadilla explained that the deal is worth around £1.75 million and comes as it targets annual turnover of around £5m over the next two to three years, up from its pre-pandemic level of £2m, and follows it in April announcing the fulfilling of a major education contract.

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It says it started building and supplying luxury pods to hotels and hospitality groups more than a decade ago, and was a 2020 winner of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of its innovation, officially receiving the prize last month when Richard Callander, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Midlothian, visited its manufacturing site.

The business also pointed out that major construction work started last month on Wavegarden Scotland’s £55m landmark leisure and staycation facility in Ratho. The attraction, which will be set within a 60-acre country park offering waterside accommodation, is due to open in summer 2024 when it is expected to create 130 jobs, generate up to £11m for the local economy, and attract more than 180,00 visitors annually.

Armadilla MD Archie Hunter said the tie-up comes on the back of Wavegarden Scotland being keen to support local firms, adding: “We’re flexible and happy to personalise our pods for clients [and] we’re adapting our pods for this unique destination to include such features as secure areas for holidaymakers to store surfboards, along with outdoor showers.

"Our offering is on a par with what guests would expect at a four- or five-star hotel. And we have always put sustainability at the heart of our design and manufacturing processes, which was another important consideration for the team.”

Armadilla also says its units are constructed using the high-spec principles of Passivhaus buildings, focused on high comfort and low energy use.

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From left: Andy Hadden, founder of Tartan Leisure with Ross and Archie Hunter of Armadilla. Picture: Mike Wilkinson.

Winner

Mr Hunter added that Armadilla accommodation units’ low power demand helped net the deal with Wavegarden Scotland. “This feature means that they can focus the power on the site to its wave machine. This isn’t the first time that our low power use has proved to be a winner with customers.”

Andy Hadden, founder of Tartan Leisure that is developing Wavegarden Scotland, said: “As we create Scotland’s newest leisure and staycation facility, it’s important that we work with dynamic local businesses, so we are thrilled to be Armadilla’s flagship project for Scotland.”

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Armadilla was founded by Mr Hunter, who has a background in farming and hospitality, and his design engineer son Ross, who is chief executive and whose other projects have included a design for a ventilator to help Covid-19 patients.

From left: Ross and Archie Hunter with Lord Lieutenant of Midlothian Richard Callander during the latter's visit to present Armadilla with its Queen's Award for Enterprise. Picture: contributed.

The pod-making firm says it now supplies clients across the UK and overseas and has 35 staff. Its hospitality customers include Jason Vale’s spa retreats in the Algarve, Glamping GMBH in Germany, Riverbeds in Ballachulish, and new hotel contracts are in the pipeline. Armadilla is also currently part of a market research project supported by Scottish Development International to help companies develop business in Europe.