Georgia Seago finds out how taking a risk on a young business paid off for Wellington Street Day Spa
Taking your business through a complete refurbishment after only 18 months is a big gamble. But that’s what Christopher Finch, owner of the Wellington Street Day Spa in Ashton-under-Lyne, decided to do with his salon, Beauty by Christopher Le Bou, in a bid to reposition it at the higher end of the market.
“In my area there weren’t any salons marketing themselves like I am now; it was all quick-fix beauty treatments and I wanted to separate myself from that,” he explains. To escape the climate of discounts and fast service treatments, the heavy cream and gold décor was the first to go, replaced with a fresh grey and white theme.
“I got lots of old furniture that has been re-worked, so it’s still got that French look but with a contemporary feel. The key thing I wanted was a really good, solid piece of old furniture so I could really display my retail properly, I wanted that to be a big part of revenue,” says Finch.
Before the refresh, the salon didn’t have any retail at all, but now it sells products from brands including Aromaworks and OPI, and that portion of revenue is building month on month. “I’m finding that clients will come in off the street and purchase a candle or nail polish, so I’m not just relying upon treatment sales, he says. “The look of the spa is more appealing now to come into. They’re not necessarily clients who would ever have a treatment, but they will buy products.”
Clientele was also a big focus for Finch when re-branding. He wanted to appeal to a different kind of client, one with a higher disposable income seeking high-end spa treatments such as natural nail manicures, Aromaworks massages and facials, and non-surgical facelifts using Dermalift, rather than spray tans and nail extensions. “Anything that goes against artificial beauty is a big draw for these ladies. Since the refurbishment the people coming through the door are enquiring about higher price-point treatments,” he says.
The salon now has a double manicure station and is in the process of converting unused space into another treatment room, which will bring the total up to four. Open five days a week from 9am to 5pm and with only one other therapist, Finch has his hands full. “I’m looking to try and open seven days a week and have twilight shifts for different members of staff. So I want to bring new therapists in to cover that late shift next year,” he says.
He’s also considering semi-permanent make-up to meet the demand for brow treatments from his older clients, and he’s currently taking a course that includes laser training with a view to adding laser hair removal to the menu.
Brand-wise he seems set, with British aromatherapy brand Aromaworks for skincare, OPI for nails, Dermalift for nonsurgical facials and Swiss brand Mavex for advanced foot care. “I’m looking for quality rather than brand awareness. Aromaworks is a new brand and that was a big gamble because people come in and ask what skincare I use, and if you don’t say one of the recognised brands people can move away. But for me it’s about portraying a good quality brand and believing in what you’ve got,” says Finch, adding: “My clients want to relax and have a lovely treatment with good products.”