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Beauty Means Business

We work in an industry worth £28.4 billion, yet it’s often dismissed as trivial. Now a landmark report from the British Beauty Council is set to give our sector a serious makeover

The UK beauty industry – of which hair, with an annual turnover of £6.3bn, is by far the most valuable sector – is one of the most vibrant business communities in this country and a world-leader in skills and education. So why is it rarely promoted as a positive career choice for school leavers?

As we have debated repeatedly at Salon Smart, it is time for the industry to be taken seriously. Much more needs to be done to nurture it, drive our business forward and influence valuable growth for the UK economy. UK beauty needs to be valued – by Government, the wider economy, and by consumers.

Creative HEAD publisher Catherine Handcock is co-founder of the British Beauty Council, a new and independent industry body set up to represent all areas of the beauty industry and ensure that it is recognised and valued at all levels – by Government, by the wider economy, and by consumers.

“It’s a question of raising our profile, improving our reputation and engaging with policy-makers and people who made decisions about education funding, so that we can attract the best people into our industry,” she says.

The Council’s first step has been to establish the real value of the UK beauty industry and its contribution to the economy. “Our industry has never been adequately defined, nor its contribution to the UK economy robustly valued,” continues Handcock. “This omission has had real consequences – not least, limiting our sector’s impact.”

The Council’s ‘Value of Beauty’ report, prepared by acknowledged experts Oxford Economics, quantifies the total contribution made by the beauty industry to the UK economy in 2018. Among the key findings, it shows that the beauty industry made a total contribution to UK GDP worth £28.4 billion – equivalent to 1.3 per cent of the UK’s total GDP – and directly employs 370,200 people, with a further 220,300 jobs being supported through its supply chain and wage-related consumer spending contributions. Just as importantly, the beauty industry supported £7 billion in UK tax revenues last year – more than half of which was paid directly by the beauty industry and those employed in it.

‘Value of Beauty’ also spotlights the mechanics behind the industry today, in every sector from professional expertise in beauty to creative and technical abilities in hair salons and spas, the disciplines of product manufacturing, branding, design and marketing, the science behind product retail, the skills of beauty journalism and blogging, the creative process of new product conception, and more.

“Accurate communication of the size of the UK beauty industry is essential to gaining traction with policy-makers,” says Handcock. “We need to transform traditional establishment perceptions of our industry, and numbers are key to this. The fact that UK beauty is bigger than the car industry, for example, is going to take some people by surprise.”

The report will be an important tool to assist the British Beauty Council with its advocacy, moving forward. Says British Beauty Council chief executive Millie Kendall: “We hope to promote the industry to business leaders to ensure investment into our sector is fluent, we want to provide proof that the beauty industry is a force for good and provides much-needed support in terms of wellness and mental health. We will continue to look at areas for improvement in education at further education and higher education levels, as well as promoting careers in our sector in a way that assesses the skills gaps and allows for a more managed work flow into employment. We feel by bringing together the beauty industry and its various sectors we can look to establish that we are a creative industry that is diverse and inclusive and one that can be sustainable as automation takes over jobs in other sectors.”

Download the ‘Value of Beauty’ report free of charge from July 18 at britishbeautycouncil.com