Spanish practices are set to come to a hair salon near you

Being a former Credit Suisse banker might not be the most natural preparation for a job in the hairdressing business, but for two Spanish bankers now based in London it was a natural business decision.

Joaquin Lopez-Chicheri and Borja Marquez Porral are bringing a Spanish hairdressing business to the UK.

Marco Aldany, founded in Spain in 1997, is a chain with more than 400 stores in Spain and has salons in Luxembourg, Poland and Peru, and new ones planned for the US, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Spanish bankers first discovered their love of hairdressing when Credit Suisse advised the Marco Aldany family in the sale of a stake in their business.

After gaining an understanding of the difference between a Brazilian blow dry from a deep-cleansing treatment, the ambitious bankers decided they had spotted a market in the UK. "Many salons in the UK now offer coffee, wine, extra add-ons. Of course, these are important, but the most important thing is a haircut for a fair price. We will provide this to Britain."

The basis for the business is charging customers a cheaper price the more often they come. Lopez-Chicheri has noted that British people do not have their hair cut very often, but he has dreamed up the slogan, "Why not look fabulous every day?", and believes by offering a system that charges regular customers less, the business will take off here. "We target the middle-class woman who wants a regular cut, but for a lower price than usual."

Following the recession and the banking crash, Lopez-Chicheri and Porral decided the UK would be the perfect location for their new business. They have bought the UK master franchise from the Aldany family and plan a two-pronged attack in the UK.

The launch is divided into two stages: first, it will open company-owned salons in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh and the South-east and has hired Capital Retail property agents to search for locations ranging up to 2,000 sq ft.

The second stage is beginning a franchising operation for the business. The plan is to find stylists and business people willing to run their own salons as businesses by taking on a franchise from Lopez-Chicheri and Porral.

Lopez-Chicheri says: "We would rather franchise our own salons to bring in the entrepreneurial businesspeople and stylists. We will offer our experience in the sector to these franchises and together we will let Marco Aldany expand to every corner of the UK."

The pair have seen the success McDonald's and Burger King and countless other retail operations have had in the UK with a franchise-based business and believe that hairdressers are just as entrepreneurial. The eventual chain could stretch to more than 200 locations across the UK.

Porral says: "Often a franchisee can operate up to five locations and become a successful businessperson in their own right. That is what we want to help create."

In Spain, the Aldany family has 50 years experience in the beauty sector, with three generations of hairstylists in the family. Its salons have been used by celebrities including Penelope Cruz. It now has more than 6.5 million clients with 4,000 stylists globally.

The Spanish bankers haven't trained as stylists themselves and are happy to stay on the numbers side of the business, which is based "purely on the skills of their stylists", Porral says. The next stage will be selling beauty products through the salons.

With the first location in London close to being picked, the Marco Aldany treatment could be at a salon near you next year.

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