WITH more than 30 barbershops and hair salons in Leigh, and five alone on the Broadway, you would think it would be impossible for them all to survive.

Yet, many of the businesses are thriving and more are continuing to open.

The Echo visited Leigh on Friday to find out the secrets to success.

Speaking to the owners of business in the Broadway, it is clear that all attempt to stand out in their own ways. 

Echo: Michaela Johnson says hairdressers must take good care of their clientele to survive in a competitive environment.Michaela Johnson says hairdressers must take good care of their clientele to survive in a competitive environment. (Image: Ben Shahrabi)

Outstanding customer service, affordability, and above all else top quality haircuts are the key as they attempt to ensure they build a loyal customer base that means they can survive in the highly competitive industry.

Rick Coombes, 43, opened the Blind Barber three years ago and believes the businesses are successful in the area because they are not affected by the same challenges plaguing shops.

He said: “It’s a service trade. Lots of places around here sell wine, coffee, food, and haircuts - which you can’t buy online.

“But you still have to be decent to make a living.”

While forging a good reputation can help separate one hairdresser from the competition, Rick says other factors can play a part in the longevity of any business.

He said: “It’s not really competition that concerns me, but the cost of running the place that’s more worrying. Electricity and other utility bills are going up. Rent has been going up too. It’s not too bad if you’re already in a lease, but it’s still not ideal.”

Michaela Johnson, 57, has been a hairdresser for 41 years and currently works at The Gallery in Clements Arcade. She agrees loyal clients can make or break a business like hers.

She said: “In a competitive environment, you really have to look after your clients. Don’t overcharge  be sensitive to what’s going on in the world financially.

“There is a lot of competition, but you’ll find the hairdressers that are always busy are usually really good.

“The number of barbershops around here doesn’t affect me too much as I have an amazing clientele. The most important thing is how you look after them.”As well as working at salons during her career, Michaela has taught hairdressing in Italy for the last 32 years.

Echo: Aras Ali outside the Leigh barbers.Aras Ali outside the Leigh barbers. (Image: Gaz de Vere)

She added: “I feel really lucky to be able to do that. Hairdressing is a creative industry, so you never really stop learning.

“There are lots of really good salons locally, but they don’t all have time to educate their staff. That concerns me. What are they giving to the younger generation of future hairdressers?”

Entrepreneur Aras Ali, 38, opened his seventh Southend barbershop, Arastocuts, on the Broadway in October. A self-made millionaire, he came to the UK from Kurdistan aged 16 and opened his first barbershop in Wakefield in 2006. Aras then moved to Southend in 2007, where he opened the first of four Cut U Up salons.

He said: “A good reputation is so important. Most local people know me, as I’ve lived in Southend for 18 years. It’s all to do with establishing trust  you need to know you’re in good hands.”

Aras says loyal customers urged him to open a salon in Leigh to save them having to travel to Southend, so is confident his latest venture will be a success.

He said: “We’re established and we know we’re going to make it. With business, you can never enough.”

Aras’ barbershops will offer free haircuts to vulnerable, disabled and isolated people until December 14.