RELOCATING FROM REGENT STREET TO ALBEMARLE STREET
At the same time as we were looking for new school premises we also knew that our time in our flagship salon in Regent Street was coming to an end. Rent & rates were going through the roof & we knew we had limited time there before we’d be hit with a massive increase. The Crown Estate owned all of Regent Street & a gentrification program was being introduced. Small businesses like ours were being squeezed out & although at the time our rent & rates exceeded £140 k p.a., yes, in 1996, that level, we started negotiating with our landlords to secure a pay-out for surrendering the lease, thereby enabling us to relocate somewhere not too far away.
With this in mind, we found a dilapidated site in nearby Albemarle Street, just off Bond Street, in preparation for the closure & re-location of the staff to new premises. Traditionally, that area was full of art galleries, but in ‘95/’96 was extremely depressed by the closure of some of the more famous ones. The world-renowned Michaeljohn salon was at the other end of the road & quite frankly, they were out of our league in terms of their up-market clientele & world-wide reputation. Posh or what! In any case, our prospective clientele was completely different, much more middle/working class.
By the end of 1996 we still had around six salons & the training school. The usual difficulties associated with running a service industry business were still as apparent then as they are nowadays unless you’re clever enough to have bought your own freehold site. Staff continuously on the move, rents & business rates always rising & profit seeming like a dirty word. At the same time, to us at least, education seemed to be the way forward. The team were regularly travelling to the Far East, Italy & Spain & by now our reputation as a commercial, London based training organisation was fairly widely recognised. London was still regarded as the centre of the hairdressing world & we had somehow started to be recognised for not only training ladies hairdressers but also barbers.
The music scene was all about “Brit Pop” & wherever we appeared the music seemed to be as important as the style of hairdressing we produced. Edward spent hours in a recording studio putting together music tapes that the team worked to on stage. At home the barbering side of our training grew in popularity, mainly down to our connection with the very large Cypriot community, both Greek & Turkish, based in London & the Home Counties. The first generation of hairdressers & barbers who came to the UK from Cyprus wanted their siblings trained in a more professional manner & we were in the right place at the right time. Now, of course, barbering is the real red-hot topic & everyone is involved with it. Twenty years ago we were the trend-setters. Can you believe it? No, neither can I!
On top of the new School & the new salon we also decided to relocate our family home from South London into the centre of town, from large house, lots of parking & a beautiful garden to relax in to a small flat, one parking space if you were lucky enough to find it, a balcony so small you literally couldn’t swing a cat & traffic buzzing by night & day. And still Edward wouldn’t move out! We must have been mad!
Watch this space for more regarding the training side of the industry.