A WORD FROM THE CEO
Despite the challenges and disruptions we faced, the year has given us the opportunity to reflect, adapt and have the courage to confront new challenges. Going into 2020, the company had planned to continue to build on the foundations laid in 2019 in terms of the sales structure. These foundations relied heavily on the traditional and proven face-to-face contact with existing and potential customers.
The Coronavirus pandemic that affected most of the world changed the landscape completely, with national lockdowns, social distancing and home working becoming the new “normal.” The business was adversely impacted by the lockdowns and the restrictions imposed including a ban or restricted numbers of large gatherings such as weddings and parties. This dampened demand for hair services and products. The changes forced us to re-evaluate our strategies and routes to market, resulting in us embarking on an online and digital approach to enable us to survive a difficult period.
In March 2020, the UK and Ireland experienced the first national lockdown which lasted until the end of June. Salons closed and the business immediately lost income, resulting in 65% of the team being placed on furlough. (Furlough is a UK government scheme where staff are not required to work but are paid up to 80% of their salaries by the government.) The lockdown coincided with the launch of the new brand website for Great Lengths and provided the opportunity to connect and engage with salons, stylists and consumers in a new way.
We further strengthened our salon support with the launch of the first virtual education platform. This transformed our two-day classroom education into bite size modules including one-to-one online sessions with an educator. This led to a speedier route to market and provided confidence to the hairdressers certifying whilst maintaining the integrity of our high standards. The initiative of virtual education is just the start of our changing business world and how we communicate and trade.
Despite starting 2021 with another national lockdown closing salons yet again, the mass immunisation program has commenced. We do therefore expect strong demand once social activities are allowed to resume and maintain confidence in our strategies to build existing and future brands. / Joscelin McCourt, CEO.
IMPORTANT EVENTS IN 2020
- In February the Great Lengths’ creative team supported shows at fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan (photo credit).
- March 23rd first national lockdown – salons close across UK and Ireland.
- Launch of Great Lengths global brand website in March.
- 4th July salons re-open for business.
- Virtual education platform launched in September.
- Premium haircare range, Rossano Ferretti goes to market with flagship salons across the UK & Ireland (photo credit).
- Sponsorship and attendance of virtual industry award ceremonies and events.
- November second national lockdown all salons closed.
- December, tiered system across UK introduced some salons closed.
The HB Collective business is driven by the increasing consumer spend in the beauty and more specifically professional hair salon market. Fundamentally, despite times of volatility, the demand of hair extensions is stable throughout Europe in more or less all price segments in the market.
We like the HB Collective business due to its market characteristics where demand for its premium products shows relatively low price elasticity and is in essence a consumable to its target segment. We view the HB Collective platform as our vehicle to further explore the professional hair salon market.