Professional Beauty
Professional Beauty


SOS: Save our salons

For the first time, after writing for 152 Professional Beauty issues, this – my 15 3rd – is not a column, but a battle cry; a call to action, and we need you to get on board.

Our industry is in crisis. A recent survey suggested that around 62% of all salons in our sector feel that they could be in real danger of going under by the end of 2021. At the time of writing, statistics suggest that nearly 8,000 salons will never reopen due to the pandemic. When we translate that into jobs lost, the damage becomes unthinkable. We simply have to act to prevent any more heart-breaking harm, and we have to act now.

That’s why I’m sending out this SOS – it’s time for us to join forces, mobilise and do something to Save Our Salons. All the information you need is on our new website

We are a faceless organisation, made up of a collective of salon owners who have a single mission to Save Our Salons, our businesses, and the people who work in them. We have no time for politics, other than reaching out to the politicians themselves, so we need to become a coherent force with one voice and one goal across all media, all industry bodies, all salon owners, all manufacturers, all suppliers; we need unification with a common aim.

So, how can you help? We have a distinct mission, which is critical, timewise. We need a VAT reduction for our sector. Despite the Chop the VAT campaign that launched for the hair sector last year, attempts to get our VAT reduced to 5% – in line with the break given to hospitality – were rejected. But we can still lobby for change. Not in a generic, industry way, but more you, the local beauty or hair salon owner telling your area’s MP why you need the VAT rate to be reduced. And how, if we are successful, it might just mean the difference between your business surviving or not.

“Maybe your business is lucky enough not to need saving, but your actions might help protect the industry we all love”

Professional Beauty Group is among the trade media companies supporting this campaign. Their backing, as ever, and yours, is crucial to our success.

What do you need to do? 

a) Find out who your local MP is. Use the link on 

b) Get in touch with them. We suggest you personalise our draft template letter – again, the link is on the website 

c) Don’t be afraid to tell your own story. Your MPs need to hear from real people and real businesses in their constituencies, exactly how you’ve been personally affected. It is this that will make the difference when they table what to debate in parliament. And that is when our voice will be heard and decisions can be affected. Forwarding a template letter is not enough 

d) Help by sharing our campaign with other salon owners – highlight it in your social media and share it with anyone else you think might help.

The heavy taxation we pay when it comes to VAT in the UK has long been something I have been ranting about, and our industry has been campaigning to reduce it for as long as I can remember. We believe we are one of the most highly taxed industries, despite contributing massive amounts to the UK economy.

Other countries, like the Republic of Ireland, have reduced rates for services and different, higher rates for goods (i.e. sales tax for retail). We are taxed at 20%, with all the costs of bricks-and-mortar retail units.

Conventional retailers make their living from selling products, recouping the VAT they shell out when buying their stock. With stock spend being minimal in our business model, we cough up the VAT on our services, which make up the majority of our income, and that simply isn’t fair.

You might feel that you can’t be involved unless you are a VAT-paying salon owner. But it doesn’t matter if you are a freelancer, employed or self-employed. Whether you are a beauty therapist, nail tech, barber or hairdresser, or you earn your living through supplying products, services or goods to the sector, or indeed if you are in journalism, PR or other media relating to our industry – you can still support this campaign to ensure we not only protect our salons and our profession, but help save our high streets too.

One letter might not save your business. Maybe your business is lucky enough not to need saving, but your actions might save someone else’s and help protect the industry we all love.

In the wake of this economic catastrophe caused by Covid-19, we now need to urgently act. Sadly, there is no time to lose. Please help Save Our Salons. This is the biggest and most important SOS of all.

Thank you, Hellen xx

Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London, one of the most profitable independent salons in the UK. She is beauty ambassador for the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF). Send your feedback to

This article appears in the February 2021 Issue of Professional Beauty

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This article appears in the February 2021 Issue of Professional Beauty