L'Oréal headquarters

PARIS — France’s hair salons are slated to reopen on May 11, when the country’s confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic starts lifting, and L’Oréal has put in place a program to reinforce its support of the channel.

Salons must supply hydro-alcoholic gel and protective equipment, enforce social distancing, have the organizational flexibility to spread out appointments, and offer electronic payment methods.

On Friday, L’Oréal said it would furnish French salons with three million masks and 121,000 400-ml. bottles of hand sanitizer. Salons can order such sanitary protection when they order products through L’Oréal customer service or business partners as operations resume.

Further, L’Oréal has established a partnership with Ikosoft, Planity and Flexy, specialists in management software for independent salons. This makes it possible for salons to use the companies’ software free of charge for three months to facilitate the online scheduling of appointments.

“For more than a century, L’Oréal has been committed to hairdressers,” Nathalie Roos, president of the group’s Professional Products Division, said in a statement. “Today, more than ever, L’Oréal is mobilizing with the entire profession to allow for the reopening of salons starting on May 11 with good hygiene and safety conditions to welcome clients.”

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Hairdressing is France’s second-largest artisanal sector, with more than 85,000 salons and 184,000 professionals. Countrywide, hairdressers service 1 million clients per day.

L’Oréal had already instigated some measures to support hairdressers during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include a debt freeze offered to independent salons and hairstylists worldwide. In France, 11,056 clients have benefited from the measure, while in Europe the count is 65,000 salons and worldwide, almost 100,000.

L’Oréal has also offered hairdressers online training through Access, the e-learning community created by the group and accessed through a platform dedicated to professionals. It’s available in 20 countries and proposes tutorials, webinars and online educational modules. L’Oréal said it was strongly in demand, particularly between March 1 and April 1.

L’Oréal expects a rush to salons once confinement lifts in France. According to a study carried out for the group by Harris Global Omnibus, for which 500 people were polled, 59 percent said they wanted to go to the hair salon in the week following de-confinement. Thirty-seven percent expressed the desire to go in the three days following May 11.

Sixty-eight percent of men and 50 percent of women expressed interest in visiting hair salons.

Of those queried, 67 percent of people missed getting their hair cut, and 63 percent mentioned hairstyling. Half mentioned the pleasure of going to the hairdresser, and for 47 percent of women, getting their roots touched up was top of mind.

L’Oréal’s Professional Products Division has been one of its two hardest-hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first quarter of the year, ended March 31, the division’s sales declined 10.1 percent in reported terms and 10.5 percent on a like-for-like basis to 751.1 million euros.

L’Oréal said in March the division’s sales stopped sharply, due to the progressive closure of hair salons around the world, especially in Europe and in the U.S.

During a call with financial analysts and journalists on April 16, when the quarterly numbers were released, L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer Jean-Paul Agon addressed the subject of the salon industry. Agon said he believes there will be a strong bounce-back in the channel once salons open again, that women and men of all ages to go salons around the world.

“I’m personally optimistic and confident that when the salons open again there will be a rush to [them] everywhere,” he said. “Our mission and our role is to help them pass this difficult period that I hope should not be too long.”

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