Voices that count: save our salons

Lauren The Blog

The call to Save Our Salons UK continues as we near the end of full Lockdown [crossing fingers and looking at the ‘promised’ date of 12 April for England]. It’s time to really study what re-opening could mean and talk candidly about how best to rebuild businesses and full client columns. 

The experience of the Covid pandemic is universal, across hairdressing we’ve all suffered the rollercoaster ride of being alternately open for business and closed in Lockdown. But each of us has our own burden of responsibility and worry, which does vary considerably. For salon owners and company directors, the duty of care to staff – both financial and mental – and the enormity of rental fees for largely empty shops, is as stressful as it gets. Even here the suffering varies according to location.

Ena Salon, Covent Garden; prime location but hit by a drop in footfall say the owners

We asked many independent owners and salons groups what it could be like for central city salons? In these locations footfall is a near 50:50 combination of residents and workers plus tourists, and it’s unrealistic to expect a return to normal anytime soon. After the first rush of returning clients in the weeks immediately after Lockdown is lifted, these salons anticipate a very much diminished number of client visits as office blocks remain empty and holiday-makers stay away. Worringly, for many salon owners with high-value, city locations the cost currently of being closed literally comes to £1000+ a day. This is a massive stress. The Save Our Salons UK  has been very vocal and fantastically shows some signs of being noticed (see HERE for more information). How are you feeling about reopening?

Nicky Pope with Andrew Jose and Gina ConwaySalon owner Gina Conway, who has  75 employees and runs an academy in the London area, says she’s terrified and staggered to discover her ‘number’ (ie the actual cost of being closed) is currently heading for £2,000/day. This is the cost of paying rent, services including accountancy and IT, her PAYE contributions and other costs such as insurance. Nicky Pope, host of Respectfully podcast, spoke with Gina and Andrew Jose, owner of the Andrew Jose salon on Charlotte street (near Oxford Street) in London, about the true costs of being salon owners in Lockdown. It’s a fascinating conversation. Watch HERE

Anecdotally, landlords have often been unhelpful in reducing rent. Government support schemes have often proved frustrating – the grant system in particular. Furloughing employees is helpful, but still costly as the employer still pays full Nation Insurance and pension contributions plus the employee accrues holiday pay. Like many salon owners, both Andrew and Gina spoke openly about this. 

The saveoursalons.co.uk campaign has gathered huge support, with some 500+ salons declaring they have written to their MPs to lobby for a 5% reduction in VAT to help salon businesses. It’s not too late to lend your voice and with the Budget coming up this week, it’s still very important to keep asking for help. We salute the enormous efforts put into this cause by great hairdressing associations including the British Beauty Council, the NHBF, BABTAC, the United Kingdom Spa Association and The Hair Council. 

You can watch the Andrew Jose/Gina Conway conversation on our Facebook page.

For more of the latest hairdressing news, click HERE.

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