Recruitment challenges ‘a concern’ for beauty industry, says NHBF

By Helena Biggs | 14 May 2024 | Movers & Shakers, News

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The National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) has released key findings from its quarterly State of the Industry survey, highlighting ongoing challenges for the sector – despite signs of a gradual recovery.

Finding reveal that 73% of the 493 survey respondents across the UK are finding it harder to find staff, compared to a year ago. Only 16% plan to hire new staff and 14% to take on apprentices in the next three months, which the NHBF believes is ‘a concern’ for the future of the sector.

Increases to the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage and energy costs mean that 41% of businesses surveyed are delaying new hires, 57% are raising prices, 23% are putting off investments (23%), and 22% are reducing staff hours.

Caroline Larissey Square

Caroline Larissey

“These latest quarterly survey results reveal the sector’s ongoing struggles, particularly with rising costs and staff shortages despite the recent end to the UK’s recession,” comments Caroline Larissey, NHBF chief executive. “We urge the government to take swift action to support these businesses, which are central to local economies and community wellbeing across the UK.”

Over half of businesses surveyed remain partially or completely reliant on government support, and two thirds of businesses have responded to April wage rises by putting up prices. There has been a slight rise in businesses making a profit: 45% of businesses (up from 40% in January), with 43% breaking even.

In line with its Manifesto, the NHBF is calling on the government to:

  1. Implement further VAT reform, building on recent changes to the threshold which would facilitate a fairer tax system, address disguised employment issues and help create a more level playing field between sector businesses.
  2. Support employers and invest in training and apprenticeship schemes to address skills shortages and make careers in the hair and beauty sector more attractive to young people.
  3. Provide further targeted support to help businesses cope with rising costs, particularly in relation to the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage increases and energy costs.
  4. Promote positive high street policies and investment, actively supporting these businesses as high street stalwarts. Local authorities should help create and maintain positive environments and community spaces that enhance wellbeing and encourage people to visit, socialise, and interact.