THE STORY SO FAR
Spring 1978, Kevin was working as a sales rep for Associated Biscuits selling popular favourites including Jacob’s Cream Crackers, Club and Bourbon biscuits to retail and wholesale outlets all over London and the south east of England. He built strong relationships with his customers and got a real kick from seeing articulated-lorry loads of goods being delivered to his accounts, achieving turnover in excess of a million pounds a year.
Recruitment scouts from a then relatively unknown German hair cosmetic firm approached him about joining their team – they rang to arrange an interview on the morning of his wedding! He took the risk and joined a business where he would be selling hair cosmetics from the back of a transit van but before he was allowed out on the road he had to complete an intensive training programme. Locked in a hotel room for several days he had to learn everything about the science of colour and perming, the full product range and how a hairdressing business operates.
Kevin’s commitment to provide excellent customer service meant that he soon had a strong client base however working in London was challenging, it was the time of the Brixton riots and bomb scares were happening too often. When Helen came along in 1982 the family decided to relocate and when an opportunity for a job transfer arose they took it, settling in Cheltenham with Kevin working in and around Gloucestershire.
While the rewards were good, the business regime was very challenging and several reps decided to operate individually but work collaboratively. It was an exciting time; Kevin sourced suppliers for a broad product range; shampoos and conditioners from Berkshire, hairspray from Yorkshire, perms from Germany, paper products and furniture from Holland. Many of the products were made to Kevin’s own specifications and tailored to meet the demands of his customers. Some products came ready to sell, others were bottled and labelled in house (literally…. in the kitchen). Hair Systems was born.
His hair salon customer base broadened to include accounts across the South of England and South Wales and he marketed a special College Hairspray for FE colleges across the area so up and coming hairdressers were familiar with his product range. Excellent customer service continued to be Kevin’s mantra.
But, as the business grew, operating from home became an issue. When a customer in Cheltenham was on the verge of closing Kevin stepped in to manage the salon and importantly he could use the significant storage space available to move his wholesale business to new premises.
The salon was a success, Helen joined as a 13 year old junior and Kevin’s aptitude for salon management blossomed. A second salon was opened near Pittville Gates and then a third at 224 Bath Road in Leckhampton.
Following changes to EU manufacturing regulations maintaining the hair systems product range became problematic and along with the excessive mileage necessary to service all his accounts, Kevin decided to gradually wind down the wholesale business and concentrate on the salons. Without the need for wholesale storage the original salon closed and larger salon premises were secured at both Pittville and in the Bath Road.
The family business blossomed when Helen decided to qualify as a hairdresser, her subsequent management course and years of experience mean that she is able to work alongside her Dad and take the business forward. Over time, training new recruits has been an important part of the development of hair systems and we are proud of the skills achieved and progression enjoyed by the young people who have joined us.
Today all efforts are concentrated in 228 Bath Road which we are delighted to say is thriving in the ever popular Leckhampton community.