In Brands, Finance

New York-based private equity firm Castle Harlan together with Branford Castle Partners have acquired Sunless, the world’s preeminent manufacturer and marketer of spray tanning equipment, tanning solutions, and related accessories.

WHO: Headquartered in Macedonia, OH, Sunless has been the pioneer in the spray tanning market, first commercializing spray tanning booths in 2000. Sunless’ booths are installed in thousands of tanning salons, fitness clubs, beauty salons, and other outlets, and are responsible for more than 12 million spray tans per year. The company has developed proprietary knowledge, including several patents, for its spray tanning booths and solution to ensure a high-quality sunless tan. In addition to the booth market, Sunless is also the global leader in handheld spray tanning equipment and tanning solutions used by professional airbrush artists to manually apply full-body spray tans. For nearly two decades, the company has been providing consumers with natural-looking tans through market-leading brands Mystic Tan, Norvell, and VersaSpa.

Castle Harlan makes investments in control positions in middle-market companies in North America, Europe, and Australia. The firm has raised eight private equity funds—five in the United States and three in Australia—totaling more than $6 billion in capital commitments. Castle Harlan was founded in 1987 and is based in New York.

Founded in 1986, Branford Castle is a private market investor focusing on companies with under $100MM in sales. The firm has closed hundreds of private market transactions, some as large as $1 billion in transaction value. The firm is based in New York.

The Riverside Company, the seller of Sunless, is a global private equity firm focused on investing in and acquiring growing businesses valued at up to $400 million. Since its founding in 1988, Riverside has invested in more than 600 transactions and its portfolio includes more than 90 companies. The firm is headquartered in New York.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Sunless is a compelling opportunity as the leader in a growing and recurring consumer market,” said Eric Schwartz, Managing Director of Castle Harlan. “Demand for spray tanning is strong. It is amazing how quickly consumers who try spray tanning become regular adopters, and we expect this trend to continue in the coming years.”

“Spray tanning is quick, easy, and allows people to look awesome,” said John S. Castle, president and CEO of Branford Castle. “Branford’s deal team has been looking especially great since due diligence started. Further, we are very excited to work closely with the company’s customers to best address their needs and grow the industry as a whole.”

Chief Executive Officer of Sunless, Inc., Peter van Niekerk, said, “Castle Harlan has the financial resources and ambition to help Sunless, Inc. drive exciting further innovation and revenue growth with its valued channel partners. We look forward to partnering with the Castle Harlan team. We are at an exciting point of time for the spray tanning industry, and we view this transaction as a catalyst for the industry’s next chapter of growth.”


  • New York-based private equity firm Castle Harlan along with Branford Castle Partners acquired Sunless from Cleveland-based private equity firm The Riverside Company.
  • Deal terms were not disclosed.

Photo: Jared Rice via Unsplash

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