Garden Retail Awards 2009: Best Concession

WINNER: First Class Hair at John Browns Garden Centre, Golden Acres Nurseries

Julie Leary opened First Class Hair in December 2008 with a champagne party for her clients and friends. Word soon spread that the salon was open and Leary has not looked back since. The major challenge for the salon was that the area allocated was small - only 5m x 5m - and the fittings had to be carefully planned to make the most of the limited space, while giving the salon a spacious feel.

Situated in the main walkway to the entrance of the garden centre, First Class Hair cannot be missed. Fitted out to the same high specifications as the centre, it has Mediterranean tiling with four cutting chairs, two specialist shampoo basins and waiting space. In all, 10 clients can be comfortably accommodated.

Leary and her junior stylist provide all the services you would find in a major salon, from blow-drying to full-head and scattered highlights and perms. Both male and female clients are welcome. Leary's established clients have followed her to her new salon and she has gained many new clients who are delighted by the positioning of the salon as well as the service received.

Chairs are also rented out to other stylists, which introduces yet more new customers to the garden centre.

Prices are "very reasonable" and clients are "delighted to receive such a first-class service in pleasant surroundings". The salon has increased footfall to the garden centre, introducing new customers who spread the word about John Browns. It is already showing a healthy profit and Leary has seen a 300 per cent boost in business with additional income from renting chairs to other stylists.



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