The shopping centre, which is owned by Capital Shopping Centres opened in late 1999. It comprises 98,474m² (1.06million ft²) of retail and leisure floorspace The centre has 110 shops in the main covered mall, and a further 10 in a retail park of larger stores. Additionally, Braehead is also home to Glasgow's IKEA store which opened in 2001 and sits near the King George V dock. At 29,000m² it is the largest in both Scotland and the United Kingdom. Since opening, the centre has proved popular with consumers (indeed it has been blamed for a downturn in the fortunes of shops in nearby Paisley, Govan and Renfrew).
It was the subject of a dispute between City of Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils, as originally the council boundary line divided the shopping centre in two, but a Boundaries Commission ruling eventually redrew the boundary to include all of the centre in Renfrewshire, however development areas close to the King George V dock to the east of Braehead are still in Glasgow to allow the dock to remain in one authority. The boundary runs along the side of Old Renfrew Road / Kings Inch Road and is represented by a chain link fence at this point.
A large Renfrew Riverside development is in construction to the West side of Braehead involving a large area of house building, as well as Xscape, an indoor ski slope and entertainments complex, which opened in the Spring of 2006.
To the south of the shopping centre is a small development called Braehead Business Park, home to the global headquarters of Picsel Technologies.
It can be reached from Junctions 25a (westbound) and 26 (eastbound) of the M8 motorway, and has extensive public transport connections including its own bus station, managed by Arriva. Buses run from many areas linking Braehead to Largs, Greenock, Paisley, Glasgow, Erskine and Johnstone. The Pride of the Clyde ferry service ran from Glasgow City Centre to Braehead's pier down the River Clyde regularly until October 2007.
In 2000 its curling facilities hosted the World Championships, and in 2005 were used as training facilities when the Women's World Championships were being held in Paisley.