By Ian McConnell

HAIRDRESSING salon owner Stuart Whitelaw says he will be “very happy” to reopen his Mesart business on July 15, including a new 6,000 sq ft space in Glasgow's west end, having received requests for appointments from thousands of customers.

The new Great Western Road salon, to which Mesart Hair Design has moved its Glasgow west end operation from its previous location in Finnieston, had been due to open on March 24, the day after the UK Government announced a move to full lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Mr Whitelaw put the number of people seeking appointments, through emails and the online booking system which was opened on Friday, at about 3,000 for the Great Western Road salon and at around 1,000 or “maybe a bit more” for the Uddingston branch.

Both salons are due to open on July 15, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

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Mesart has had to use the UK Government coronavirus job retention scheme, which funds 80 per cent of the wages and salaries of furloughed workers up to £2,500 a month, with its salons having been closed during the lockdown. The hair salon business is retaining all 20 of its staff as it restarts its operations.

Mesart launched its Uddingston salon, which attracts customers from nearby Bothwell, in 2013 and expanded with the Finnieston opening the following year.

Mr Whitelaw noted the building at Great Western Road had been purchased, with about £500,000 then invested to create the salon. He pointed out the space enabled social-distancing, with no need for screens. Mesart has installed black matt steel screens at its Uddingston salon.

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He noted Mesart had been able to obtain grant support for its Uddingston salon under government Covid-19 assistance measures but not for the Great Western Road site because it had not yet opened.

Asked about cash-flow, and the pent-up demand, he said: “It is definitely a better feeling knowing we can…open our doors. Having just finished the [Great Western Road] project, it has been quite a worrying time watching cash-flow dry up. We have monthly overheads we have to pay. It has been quite tight. I will be very happy to get the business reopened.”

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He flagged the advantage, from a cash-flow perspective, of operating in a sector in which customers paid on the day. Mr Whitelaw, who worked for the Rainbow Room for about eight years and did his training there, noted cash-flow would “move quickly” when Mesart opened its salons.

He added: “I still work full-time in the salon. I am very much looking forward to getting back to some normality...As we emerge from one of the most challenging times a business could possibly face, I am extremely excited and relieved to finally be able to open our doors to our clients and to get our team back to work.”