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| November 27, 2021

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NHF/NBF: Hair and beauty businesses are booming

NHF/NBF: Hair and beauty businesses are booming
Sam Robinson

The National Hairdressers Federation and the National Beauty Federation have released their 2018 annual statistics giving an overview of businesses, turnover, employment, working patterns, age, gender, trends in salon start-ups and business success, apprenticeships and health.


The number of hairdressing, barbering and beauty businesses has gone up by 2% to 42,370 across the UK, with the greatest concentrations in London, the southeast and the northwest. The vast majority are micro businesses, with 93% employing less than 10 people, and 70% employing less than 5 people.

They contribute almost £7.5 billion to the UK economy, up from £7bn. The number of very small businesses with turnover of less than £99,000 has gone down by 10%, although they still account for over half of all hair and beauty businesses.

Business trends

The top 10 list of most popular business start-ups includes barbershops in the top spot, followed by beauty salons at number two and nail salons at number 5. Hair and beauty salons are showing growth, but the number of salons offering only hairdressing is starting to decline, with 217 more closing than opening in the last year.


There has been drop of around 10,000 people working in the hair and beauty industry, down from 270,000 to 260,000.
a) Hair: 162,000 people work in hairdressing or barbering which is dominated by females (83%) and young people with almost half aged 16-34. 58% are self-employed, similar to last year. There has been an increase in part-time employees, from 45% to 49%.


97,000 work in beauty, which is almost entirely made up of females (94%), with young people making up almost two thirds (61%) of the workforce. 53% of people working in beauty are self-employed, similar to last year, and there has been an increase in part-time working from 43% to 52%.


In common with many other sectors, the number of hairdressing and barbering apprenticeship starts in England is down by a quarter from 15,450 to 11,486. The decline is due to changes to the apprenticeship standards and to apprenticeship funding which meant that employers were having to make a financial contribution of 10% towards the cost of training and assessment (£900 per apprentice) for learners unless they are 16-18 year olds (or 19 or over with a local authority care plan).

A Word From Hilary

Hilary Hall, NHF/NBF chief executive, commented: “We have campaigned hard against the introduction of employer contributions, and we were delighted that the government announced in the Budget that contributions would be halved by April 2019. With other changes to apprenticeship funding, this means that employers will be paying £350 per apprentice rather than £900.


While the number of work-related skin diseases is falling, beauty therapists, hairdressers and barbers have the highest rates for any industry except florists. Agnes Leonard, NHF/NBF President said, “These figures show how important it is to look after your hands. Contact dermatitis is the main problem but it’s easily avoided by wearing gloves for wet work or when using substances containing chemicals such as dyes or solvents.”

For more info, visit NHF here.