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Hair-raising Salon owner claims some hairdressers are earning up to €1,000 a week from nixers and PUP payments

"I’ve been speaking to suppliers and (while) they’re down, they’re busy. They haven’t been hit as badly as they thought they were going to be.”


A prominent Irish salon owner has claimed how some hairdressers could be clearing as much as “a grand a week” as they benefit from PUP payments while doing nixers on the side.

Alan Keville, who owns salons in Dublin, Wexford and Naas, said that while owners are struggling since lockdown measures severely restricted their business, some hairdressers have been catering for the demand in black market haircuts.

“Hairdressing salons are closed, 100 per cent, but the suppliers are only down 50 per cent,” Alan told sundayworld.com. “So basically that means 50 per cent are getting their hair done somewhere.

“Hairdressers have never been as busy (even though they're closed) and that’s a fact. I’ve been speaking to suppliers and (while) they’re down, they’re busy. They haven’t been hit as badly as they thought they were going to be.”

He added: “Business owners are on their knees, but the hairdressers are doing nixers. Owners are struggling but the staff can claim PUP and then they can do the few nixers and stuff. They could be clearing a grand week for themselves. It's never been as good. They’re either doing hair around town or going to people’s houses. It is what it is.”

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Alan was speaking this week after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said non-essential retail and hairdressers won’t open until at least the end of April or early May.

“Reopening of shops, personal services, hospitality, that wouldn’t be happening on April 5. You’d be talking realistically, at the earliest, end of April or early May”, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The Tánaiste added that shops and hairdressers will likely open before hospitality, and recommencing sports is under consideration as part of the re-opening next month.

Speaking to people on the streets of Dublin this week, after the announcement, there was some empathy, both for hairdressing staff who do nixers, and the customers who benefit from them.

Josh McLaglen said he wouldn’t go to a black-market barbers, but for other people, if it helped with their self-confidence and morale, he wouldn’t judge them.

“No, I wouldn’t judge them,” he said. “Do whatever you want, if it helps with the mental state.”

Celine Trap said she would have been tempted to go to a hairdresser on the quiet.

“Yeah, I was going to go to a girl know,” she said. “But I’m just a bit nervous. You’re not really allowed into people’s houses. I don’t want to be breaking the rules. People are going out and getting nixers because what else can you do? People are going to do what they're going to do because they’re fed up.”

Meanwhile, a philosophical Alan Keville believes the industry just needs to hang on a little bit longer.

In terms of the latest lockdown, Alan said: “I think we kind of expected it really, after what happened at Christmas and the mayhem (that followed). But, you know, the thing with salons is we’re so careful.

"There's been no instances of, you know, 50 people in a hair salon that got infected.

“I think at this stage, we've lasted this long so another couple of weeks isn't really going to be a problem. I have four salons and like 50 staff, so I mean I need to get back financially.

“We've been hit so badly and there are sectors just being completely destroyed. The problem for us is that we (still) have rents. We haven't been given free rent, it’s just waivered until you have the money to pay it. And even with revenue it's just warehoused, but you still have to pay it. We have suppliers sending invoices, final notices, saying ‘we know you're closed we're sorry, but can you fix your bill?'

“We’re in business a long time so we'll be fine but if you were a new business and you were getting that…

“It wouldn't stress me out too much. I'm doing it for so long and we're financially strong. We did save a lot of money when we were super busy at Christmas. We kind of expected (another lockdown) and I think a lot of businesses in Dublin and in Ireland expected it.

“So, basically we kept the money. We just said ‘look, we need to get in as much as we can because we could be closed for another three months’. And it turned out that we were.

“Like I said, we’re fine, but a lot of businesses that are closed are being put under a lot of pressure with bills that are outstanding. A bill you owed Christmas, obviously you’ve been closed (all his time) and now that bill is over the three months. All these things add up. It’s like a House of Cards you know?”

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