Nuffield Health plots rapid beauty salon expansion following acquisition of Virgin clubs

Health club and hospital group Nuffield Health has pledged to invest heavily in growing its beauty salon footprint in a move that could make it one of the UK’s largest multi-site salon operators.

Nuffield Health, which has 112 health club and gym sites across the UK, already operates 23 beauty salons under its in-house Beauty Suites brand and outsources additional salons to external providers.

In August, it completed the acquisition of 35 health clubs from Virgin Active and by January it will have converted the offer within 10 of those clubs into Beauty Suites. There are an additional 13 salons within the Virgin clubs run by external operators.

Former Virgin Active national health and beauty manager Emma Williams began working with Nuffield on a consultancy basis in September to develop its growth and said more Beauty Suites will be developed in 2017 beyond the conversions.

“It could be as many as another 10 on top of the 34 we have,” she said. “Nuffield Health is a combination of acquired businesses so there’s a real mixture of sizes. The Beauty Suites were created a couple of years ago to create consistency.”

All Beauty Suites offer Elemis face and body treatments and Jessica nails, and Williams said the decision to brand them as beauty rather than spa was made to keep the offer consistent.

“Most of the sites don’t have what we would consider as spa – with the full wet treatment offer,” she said. “We’re keeping it straightforward, not venturing into medical either, because that tends to be picked up by the clinical side of the business. If someone comes in for a massage but we’re meeting contraindications we can refer them to a physiotherapist, then on to a personal trainer, then back through the link again, so we will keep a real harmony between the departments.”

2017 will also see Nuffield begin a major recruitment drive. “We’re looking at all the other clubs now to see if there’s an opportunity to provide in-house beauty where we don’t have it, so that growth will continue in 2017 and 2018,” said Williams. “If we get a great CV and it’s in an area we don’t have beauty that would influence the decision to open a Beauty Suite there.”

This story first appeared in the November issue of Professional Beauty. Be the first to find out about industry news by subscribing online.