Where are hair and beauty businesses started in the UK?

Hair and beauty service providers currently contribute £5.1 billion annually to the UK economy and employ around a quarter of a million people.  

But it hasn’t been an easy ride in recent years, with salons and freelance practitioners facing an onslaught of financial pressures since the pandemic, which forced the entire industry to shut down. These include energy bill hikes, soaring rent costs and the ongoing skills shortage, to name a few. 

Given these many challenges, you might expect entrepreneurial spirit within the hair and beauty industry to have dampened. Conversely, though, our research has found the opposite to be true. 

Whether a freelance barber, a nail bar or waxing salon, our analysis shows that the number of newly formed hair and beauty businesses increased by 11% year-on-year over the last 12 months; an impressive figure given the tough economic climate. 

We analysed Companies House data to find how many new businesses were formed under SIC code 96020 (hairdressing and other beauty treatment) between 1st July 2022 and 30th June 2023. We then compared this to the same period the previous year. 

The results were hugely encouraging and reflective of recent BBC data which highlights how salons have prospered in recent years. Many experts have even heralded hair and beauty businesses as the “saviours” of the modern British high street.  

The number of hair and beauty startups increased by 11% in the last 12 months 

Time period

Number of new hair and beauty businesses formed

1st July 2021 – 30th June 2022 13,745
1st July 2022 – 30th June 2023 15,245

  

The UK's top 10 hair and beauty startup capitals

We also investigated where new hair and beauty businesses were being registered during the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly, the UK’s major cities lead the way, with a huge 3,382 new companies formed in London alone.  

#

Town or city

Number of new hair and beauty businesses formed

1

London

3,382

2

Manchester

397

3

Birmingham

381

4

Glasgow

258

5

Liverpool

216

6

Leeds

188

7

Nottingham

158

8

Leicester

135

9

Sheffield

114

10

Cardiff

111

 

However, given the population density of each city, these figures alone do not present an accurate picture when it comes to the most entrepreneurial hair and beauty hotspots of the UK.

So, to break down the data further, we took the number of new hair and beauty businesses formed in every town and city in the UK between 1st July 2022 – 30th June 2023.

We divided this number by the population of each location before multiplying by 1,000 to get a final figure of businesses formed per 1,000 residents. This offered a completely different viewpoint.

The UK’s most entrepreneurial hair and beauty towns  

#

Town or city

Number of new hair and beauty businesses formed

New businesses formed per 1,000 residents

1

Hayes

Greater London

34

2.27

2

Ruislip

Greater London

33

2.14

3

Uxbridge

Greater London

26

1.45

4

Waterlooville

Hampshire

35

1.01

5

Edgware

Greater London

34

0.95

6

Gravesend

Kent

36

0.62

7

Grays

Essex

27

0.61

8

Smethwick

West Midlands

33

0.59

9

Preston

Lancashire

47

0.50

10

Dartford

Kent

31

0.45

 

The UK’s most entrepreneurial hair and beauty towns (outside Greater London) 

Given that many of the towns highlighted above are in Greater London, we also re-ran the data with both London and Greater London removed. This helps to provide a more nationwide and less London-centric picture. 

#

Town or city

Total new hair and beauty businesses formed

New businesses formed per 1,000 residents

1

Waterlooville

Hampshire

35

1.01

2

Gravesend

Kent

36

0.62

3

Grays

Essex

27

0.61

4

Smethwick

West Midlands

33

0.59

5

Preston

Lancashire

47

0.50

6

Dartford

Kent

31

0.45

7

Northampton

Northamptonshire

108

0.44

8

Colchester

Essex

56

0.43

9

Burton upon Trent

Staffordshire

31

0.41

10

Loughborough

Leicestershire

26

0.40

 

Overall, we know that the face of the British high street is changing. And as the era of large department stores and banks comes to a close, it’s encouraging to see entrepreneurial hair and beauty businesses take their place.  

Of course, the formation of new companies is one thing; their ability to flourish is quite another. Time will therefore tell whether this uptick is sustainable. As it stands, though, the future looks bright.

Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.

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