Poor quality therapists and low retail sales among industry's chief concerns


Lack of training is devaluing the industry, retail is down, and male grooming is key to growth, according to new research.

Senior managers and owners of salons and spas from across the south of England were interviewed at the Professional Beauty London show on February 24-25 as part of an anonymous focus group held to gain insight into the state of the industry.

The group identified the male market as an important focus for growth. While this market is still fairly small, male clients are proving to be more loyal and consistent in their spend, and treatments for men are on the up, said the group. Services popular with this market include facials, waxing and sports massages.

There are still areas for improvement, however. While men are coming to salons for treatments, they are slower to buy in to the value of professional products and continue to buy their skincare on the high street or online. “They are buying products but not from us,” said one salon owner. “Whilst there is no advice that matches what we can provide as experts, my customers will get it cheaper elsewhere.”

Indeed, the salons reported that retail was falling across the board, with more clients turning to the internet to track down bargains. There was strong feeling that more suppliers should ensure that their products were not available outside salons and that therapists should receive more training in retail.

A similar focus group held at Professional Beauty Manchester in October indicated that discount sites such as GroupOn and Living Social were a key cause for concern. While they are still certainly seen as devaluing the industry, group members in London identified different challenges as more important.

Professionals said they were seeing a lower quality of training in the students and young therapists applying for salon jobs, which is having a detrimental effect on the reputation of the sector. “You have to start training them from day one as they’re just not ready,” said a focus group member. Areas flagged for improvement included poor attitude, lack of education and a narrow, short-sighted view of the industry.

The increase in non-professionals offering beauty treatments at a low price point after completing a short course is another factor threatening the industry, which reiterates the need for therapist regulation. “They do this short course and then call themselves a therapist. They don’t have to have a licence,” said one business owner.

This story was first published in Professional Beauty magazine. For access to exclusive industry news, subscribe to the magazine for £37 per year.