Richard Rose Owner of Hebe Hair Salons
I was very intreagued by Richard Rose, as he is the owner of a very successful and respectable hairdressing chain, Hebe, in London and yet has no hairdressing experience, other than of the times he's sat in the chair himself.
There are 6 Hebe hair and beauty salons in total, 3 in the West End and another 3 in Canary Wharf. There is another one earmarked for the new Westfield Mall due to open in London, October 2008. Westfield will be the biggest indoor mall in the UK
Hair and Beauty Jobs spoke to Richard about what led him to working for the industry and the business challenges he faces.
Q. What's your background in?
Textiles. I managed the brand for a textiler, clothing brand and was working in the Middle East, in Egypt and in Saudi.
They had shops all over the world and so it meant me travelling everywhere throughout Asia and the Middle East and backwards and forwards between London as they had a shop in Covent Garden.
Q. How did you go from there to owning the Hebe chain?
My mother was with the then owner of the Hebe chain, Leon Bangeens. He'd set up the business in the '70s and being in later years of his life wanted some help with running the business.
His own son had no real interest in the business and so he asked me if I'd return to the UK and help him with the running of the business in the capacity of Financial Director.
As it was I was getting tired of all the travelling I was having to do throughout Asia and so I readily agreed to return to the UK and help out.
Sadly the father died and with his son still not being interested in the business and wanting to sell up, I purchased the estate in 2004, forming my own limited company and took control of the shops.
Q. Does that mean you have no hairdressing experience?
Yes, other than having had my hair cut in the past. I don't want to be a hairdresser but having said that I am learning more about the business each and every day.
Q. What is the ethos behind Hebe?
We aim to give good quality hairdressing at reasonable prices and give a great service. We want each client to have a nice experience to feel that we have treally looked after them.
Hebe has a long history on the high street in the UK. At one stage they had as many as 30 shops. They were a big player along with names like Vidal Sasoon. So a lot of people are familiar with the name and what it stands for and it's important we carry on this tradition.
Q. What qualities make for good hairdressers?
Experience and education are key. If hairdressers have the skill set and then in addition have the character to fit in well with the ethos of the company then that's ideal.
It's also important they get on with the rest of the team. We are after all one big family
It's important that hairdressers are developed properly. We ideally want them to have a long career with us. Wella is one of our suppliers and we make sure that we tap into their courses as often as possible.
Q. What career opportunities do you offer to stylists?
We have plans in place to exapnd and with the opening up of new stores obviously comes the opportunity to become managers.
It's also important to keep their creativity in check and we develop art teams to do seminars and enter awards.
Q. What are some of the biggest challenges you face in a business sense?
Operating costs are the main challenge we face. Escalating costs and the economic climate can make things tough at certain times of the year.
But you have to ride through as we've got 55 staff members to support and we've still got to put a product out and deliver a good quality service.
Q. How do you deal with the life / work balance issue?
At the end of the day I'm responsible for making sure the business works. If something crops up, no matter what time of the day or night, I have to deal with it, with whatever happens really.
Business comes first, I really want and have to make it a success. I definately don't want to go end going back to working for someone else.
Q. What are your aspirations for the future?
I try not to think too much about the feature. But you know in 10 years time it would be lovely to have 25 or 30 shops, which might involve franchising some out. I'd like us to become a good household brand. We'll take each day at a time.
Q. What is key to running a good business?
People are what makes for a successful business. My business is only as good as the people working in my salons. At the end of the day I'm not a hairdresser and am not able to stand behind the chair. My staff therefore are vitally important.
It's about being able to build great teams, successfully generated by a great team leader.
Managers are key.
Q. Is networking important to running a business?
Yes, networking can be key. We do a lot of networking through the fellowship, through Wella in the workshops, through suppliers and new products.
Q. Have you or your stylists noticed any changes in consumer trends?
Yes, there is a demand for a lot more express treatments.
People seem to have less and less time. In London, especially in Canary Wharf where we have a lot of workers from within the financial sector who are on tight schedules, it's important we can service them quickly. Often they'll come in on their lunch breaks and within that time they need to have their needs met and ultimately be happy with the outcome.
If we were based in the Cotswolds perhaps this wouldn't be so much of an issue.