French coiffeurs brace for cuts from crisis

Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:44pm EST
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - French people are still spending money on their hair styles, but tougher times could be ahead as the global economic downturn catches up, according to Europe's biggest franchised hair salon chain.

"For the moment, we are not really being impacted by the crisis," said Marc Aublet, chief executive of Provalliance, the group behind Jean-Louis David and Franck Provost salons.

"It is when times are difficult that people need to be pampered," Aublet said.

He said his chain, which has 1,600 salons in France, was just starting to feel some pain in Paris and was braced for a slowdown in the months to come.

Provalliance has a further 800 salons across Europe and has already seen trading worsen in Spain, where turnover has fallen between 5 percent and 15 percent in the past six months. "There, since the spring, we are seeing a real slowdown," Aublet said.

Provalliance is the world's second largest franchised hair salon group behind U.S.-based Regis, which runs Vidal Sassoon and Supercuts salons.

Regis, which owns 30 percent of Provalliance, has announced a near 30 percent fall in net income for the quarter ended September 30, saying consumers were cutting spending.

In France, some stylists fear the downturn being felt in the United States and Spain will soon be catching up with France.   Continued...