Haringtons believe that salons are still the heart of the high street

May 06, 2022

In February this year, Haringtons Hairdressing acquired a new salon to the group, Gatsby & Miller, continuing the growth of its salon portfolio in the South of England. Following the last two years of a global pandemic and the forced closure of salons during three lockdowns, this move might seem at the very least, a little risky.

This move also comes at a time when freelance hairdressing is on the rise and flexible, non-traditional ways of working are being sought after across all sectors. So why does a business like Haringtons believe that the high street salon is worth fighting for, and how can salons keep staff and clients retained, after the greatest challenge the industry has ever faced? 

Nikki Neale, Head of Brand and Marketing for Haringtons explains why the company stands behind the strength of salons and champions its place on the high street.

“I think it was clear during lockdown, to everyone, how important the hair and beauty industry is. Not only to people – everyone was obsessed with hair – but to our local towns and their business communities.

“At Haringtons we believe that hair salons have a vital role to play in helping communities to thrive. We are businesses that contribute to the local economy, and we are hubs of the community where people feel safe and connected, while also being made to feel really good about themselves.”

In 2021 after the second lockdown, the SAVE OUR SALONS campaign, appealed to the UK Government to introduce an immediate cut in VAT on hair services from 20% to 5%. At that time, the campaign offered shocking statistics, including research that showed the closure of 4,578 UK salons and a survey of 5,000 salons that said 62% were unsure if their businesses would survive past the end of the financial year.

“The pandemic has been challenging but as a business, we had a robust plan in place to help mitigate risk. The acquisition of more salons is absolutely something that we have built into our growth strategy, and we firmly believe that the salon model is worth protecting. Key to our expansion plans is looking at ways to create new and exciting experiences in the salon environment.”

Haringtons’ five-year growth strategy sees no limit on the number of salons it will bring into the group. This strength in numbers means that the business has significant buying power and can attract partners to build lasting relationships with the brands its customers want to buy. Expansion also opens the possibilities to other services and brand extensions, for example in lifestyle, fashion, beauty, food and beverage, creating the ultimate salon experience. 

Another core focus for Haringtons over the next five years is to grow its team and create new jobs in the industry. In 2021, the NHBF reported that 60% of people working in hairdressing and barbering in 2020 were self-employed, up from 54% in 2019. Could this rise in freelance hairdressing threaten the traditional salon model? Haringtons believes that there’s room in the industry for all ways of working.

Nikki said: “If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that our health and wellbeing is so important and that new ways of working can help us to maintain good mental health. We embrace how varied our industry is and understand that being employed by a salon isn’t for everyone. However, we feel that there is still a role for the traditional salon model and if salons are smart, they will reflect and adapt to meet the needs of employees today.”

The group model enables Haringtons to accommodate a much broader approach to flexible working with extended opening hours that offer similar, if not the same flexibility as freelancing. Plus, as part of a salon group, Haringtons employees can access a wide set of expertise and services allowing its hairdressers to concentrate on their craft. For example, PR, marketing, HR, operations, technology and future planning are all looked after in a central function and salon teams have access to this support without having to action it themselves. Haringtons’ stylists can also move between salons, when positions become available and so the group model really helps to fulfil job satisfaction.

“Our salons offer stability and a work family that our stylist can rely on. We offer education and lots of professional development opportunities that they perhaps wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. Across our ten salons, our hairdressers have access to a wide range of other creatives and with that is the opportunity to get involved with things like professional shoots, collections and fashion events. 

“We have an internal website and messaging channels in salon, that means we can easily communicate with all our salon teams and keep them informed of any business decisions, training and employee perks. We know that this gives our teams a sense of ownership and investment in the company which is reflected in our staff retention.”

Haringtons also prioritise community engagement and prides itself on the impact it makes in each salon location. This is most noticeable in the businesses’ Haringtons Helps programme, a scheme that gives back to local people by offering free haircuts to those who need or deserve a little boost.  

Nikki adds, “It’s been said time and time again, but hair salons are so much more than somewhere to get your hair cut. They are rare environments where people walk in off the street and for a couple of hours, they can escape, share their thoughts and feelings and be transformed. Salons are also vital to our high streets, encouraging footfall and contributing to the local economy.

“We are very open to welcoming like-minded salons into the Haringtons Group and look to ways in which we can work with them, retaining their teams and concept of their salons. Our growth strategy is not only important for us as a business, but a way to help protect the future of the high street salon.”