Belfast Telegraph

Belfast hairdresser sets sights on growth with plans for new salon in stunning listed building

By John Mulgrew

A top Belfast hairdresser is creating new jobs and expanding amid plans to turn a listed city centre building into a new salon, it can be revealed.

Andrew Mulvenna has bought the former bank premises at Victoria Street with plans to refurbish it and open a new hair salon by March 2018.

"I have been in business for 17 years. Our original business was at the corner of Montgomery Street, then we moved to Cromac Street and thought it was time to move the business, and we wanted to expand," Mr Mulvenna told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I rent this (building at Cromac Street) and we wanted to expand into something we own.

"The key was to grow the business. We are an education salon, we have a principal academy for L'Oreal in Ireland."

However, he would not say how much he has paid for the new premises.

He employs around 35 staff at present, but said he wants to increase that number to 50 over the next few years. "I'm in my current property until the end of February, and then we will be opening in March. Most of the internal work will be happening after Christmas," he said.

Mr Mulvenna said he will be "restoring and bringing the building back to its former glory". He added: "It's 5,500 sq ft and is about 1,000 sq ft more than we have now. Ideally we would have around 50 stations and make-up.

"Business is great for us. My thing about my business, my career is 27 years so far, and a lot of salon owners opened too quickly into their career, establishing their business quickly.

"It tends to peak for five to 10 years and then collapses. But I've a bit more longevity in the business, and this is the next chapter.

"Every single person in my business, I have trained myself. We are about creating our own culture and our own brand.

"The last few years have been tough for all businesses, which have been tested. If you have managed to survive, you can thrive. I have seen fellow salon owners not do so well, which is not a happy thing."

The new premises, at 161-163 Victoria Street and the corner of Gloucester Street, is a two-storey red sandstone building. It was designed by Samuel Patrick Close for the Belfast Banking Co Ltd, and built by H&J Martin between 1884 and 1885.

The two-storey section at Victoria Street was formerly occupied by the Belfast Banking Co markets branch, according to property website Future Belfast.

The three-storey section at Gloucester Street included the bank manager's house. The building gained B1 listed status in 1979, while it was vacant.

Posting on his website, Mr Mulvenna said: "We are a large and ever growing team and now really have outgrown our current premises in Cromac Street, so I have been searching for two years for the right property investment and for the company to move into - something with real character, style and a lot more space.

"Incredibly, this beautiful 1885 bank came to light, it felt right and it was perfect for the next chapter in our company's journey. We are also looking to further expand the team to around 50-plus employees over the next few years."

Belfast Telegraph