Sunday, 22 April 2012

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

On Friday I read in the newspaper that the place where I get my hair cut, Salon Esprit, is closing its doors on May 5.

So I made sure I got a trim today because I had bought a package of five hair cuts, but had only used up three (now four).

I asked my hairdresser if he'd found a job yet and he said yes and promised to text me the details of his next place of employment later.

The staff knew it was coming, as the last time I was there, my hairdresser whispered that the place may go belly up.

Esprit Holdings which owns Salon Esprit has been in the news for not doing well financially in the past year. Last September, Esprit Holdings was valued at just $1.4 billion, a loss of more than 90 percent from the $20 billion company it was valued at four years ago, though Credit Suisse says it's worth $3.4 billion.

Customers no longer find Esprit clothing trendy like before, or the prices are too high. A few months ago it closed one of its boutiques on Queen's Road Central, as it could not compete with the painfully hip H&M down the street. And Esprit announced it will shut down all of its stores in North America because they are losing money.

The brand got into the hair business in 1999 when chairman and executive director at the time Michael Ying helped hairdresser to the celebrity set Kim Robinson when he was down and out. The Australian went bankrupt, losing his Le Salon Orient and had only a few thousand Hong Kong dollars to his name.

Ying came up with Salon Esprit and had Robinson as the headliner in November that year. The concept was to give people stylish cuts at decent prices -- and perhaps even Robinson himself would cut your tresses. It was pretty much a hit with the industrial-like salon where senior stylists wore white shirts and black pants and service overall was prompt and friendly.

After he got himself back on his feet, Robinson left Salon Esprit to set up his own place.

I knew something was fishy when back in November the receptionist asked me if I was interested in buying a package of haircuts and when amortized they were cheaper than if I paid for them individually. The discounted price (HK$350 from HK$440) seemed reasonable and I relented. Luckily I only bought a package of five; I feel for those who gut sucked in and bought one with 10 visits.

So I basically have one more visit left before it closes on May 5.

Anyone want to use it?

Salon Esprit
3/F, 100 Queens Road Central
2525 2525
www.salonesprit.com

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