Siobhán Brett Peter Mark did not lose customers (“clients”) during the recession, O’Rourke says, but visits became more infrequent. “Money gets tight, disposable income gets very tight. They don’t go for a casual blow-dry, they dry their own hair. It might not be a salon look, but money’s tight,” he says. Chiefly: “God, it’s rents. Things are very difficult, let’s be honest about it. We try to negotiate down. Some landlords came on board, some landlords didn’t come on board because they had their own bank covenants. We appreciate that. There’s a number of rents that are quite heavy on us. We are engaging with landlords to try and see where we can move this forward. At the end of the day, we’re in business a long time.” At a given time, one quarter of the Peter Mark staff body is in training. It has a centre in Belfast, three in Dublin, and takes on 100 trainees each year. The second floor of the South William Street is dedicated to training alone; classes and assessments are carried out in a comparatively clinical and conservative salon space. Notes in whiteboard marker are layered on trainee’s mirrors, and mood boards and “cutting map” diagrams abound. O’Rourke “did the usual kind of college stuff” and trained with KPMG. He joined Peter Mark in 2005, having been headhunted. His years in business prior to that were varied, but with one common denominator. “I worked for some entrepreneurs,” he says.
4 years ago
Peter Mark’s chief executive, Peter O’Rourke, admits to being ‘very square’ in the flamboyant world of hairstyling, but it takes a steady hand to steer 71 salons through tough times