EsteticaExport has interviewed Neil Capstick, Managing Director of Salon Promotion Ltd, a UK-based company that distributes a selected group of imported professional brands in the UK, alongside their own brand, Neal & Wolf.
How did you start your business?
“I have been in the sector for about 30 years working for different companies. My last project was with ghd. After that, I had to wait for a 3-year ban before I could open my own company after selling out to ghd, Salon Promotion Ltd, established 14 years ago in the UK. We started with our own brand, Neal & Wolf, at the same time as we began importing other high-end brands such as Alterna”.
How do you choose the brands you import?
“We supply high-end brands to professional salons and stylists, as well as luxury spas and hotels. To do so, we had put together a complete set of services for our clientele. We have a direct salesforce, educators, academies, and ambassadors. We have everything to attract haircare professionals to use our products”.
How is your distribution organised?
“We have our own direct salesforce in most of the UK. We also cooperate with some local distributors to cover some area where we do not deal directly.
We supply directly to more than 8,000 salons all over the UK and we also supply self-employed stylists – those who have left a salon or now hire a workstation in a salon – a phenomenon that, since the pandemic, has been growing in the UK and now represents an important share of the market – nearly 50%!”
What does a brand need to be successful in the UK?
“You have got to be incredibly consistent. You have got to be different and you have to make sure that you never let anyone down! You have to be there for Salon Owners and help them achieve their goals and targets.
And to do all that you need a very prepared and efficient team with years of experience in the field. We have a team of 85 people that cover all the necessary expertise to work in our industry”.
What are the main brands you distribute?
“We are exclusive UK distributors of Olaplex, Alterna, Fabriq, and of course our own brand, Neal & Wolf”.
And the best-seller is…
“Neal & Wolf represents 65% of our total sales. It is a complete line for hair that includes colours, bleach, treatments and retail products”.
Do you also export Neal & Wolf?
“We are not there yet, but we have got a lot of interest, so we are really eager to sell our brand to other countries starting from Europe”.
What are the strong points of Neal & Wolf?
“It is a mixture of things: it’s a boutique compact brand, has a signature fragrance, its affordable luxury and it works! We offer excellent training, education, business courses along side the products. We do everything possible to support the salons that purchase our brand.”
And you are ready to offer the same support to your future clients abroad?
“Indeed. Our model is easily translatable so we can quickly adapt it to, let’s say, Italy, France, or any other country.”
Do you do e-commerce?
“Absolutely. We are fully committed to e-commerce. Salon Promotions has a business-to-business website and the same goes for Neal & Wolf”.
So, end customers cannot purchase online?
“Actually they can, but we always ensure our salons and trade customers get the same promotions so there’s no conflict between channels. We also offer our trade customers an affiliation program which gives them a unique code and link to share with their customers. We pay a 25% commission to the salon where they generate a sale, plus commission on any sale that customer subsequently makes – it’s a customer for life!
Do you participate in the hair & beauty trade fairs?
“We always like to participate at London’s Salon International. We were there only a few weeks ago with the Olaplex booth and had an amazing time.”
What about other international fairs?
“We are planning to participate in all the main international hair and beauty events in 2024 in order to promote our brand, consolidate the business relationships we have already started, while opening up new opportunities for export”.
How do words like Sustainability, Gender Fluidity and Vegan impact on your business vision?
“We can tick all the boxes with different brands. Alterna My Hair Canvas is fully vegan, made from sustainable botanical Caviar. Neal & Wolf is only a sustainability journey to move our packaging to PCR, and we’ve already reformulated the majority of our products to be vegan friendly. We’ve always been cruelty free and against animal testing from the start, and we’re hoping to be Leaping Bunny certified in the very near future! Just look at our website and you realise we are fully ‘green’! We are ready to satisfy any possible request of the markets”.