This month we’re celebrating our 30th Anniversary, and to mark three fantastic decades in the industry, we’re taking a trip down memory lane back to 1992 when the Salons Direct story began.

Founded by husband-and-wife Gareth and Valerie Roberts, over the last three decades, our family business has evolved from a mail-order business run from the kitchen table to your trusted professional salon wholesaler of choice whether it be online or in-store.

Over the last 30 years, we have worked hard to be your chosen supplier of hair, beauty and barbering supplies, salon furniture, salon retail offerings and much more.

We can’t wait to see what the next 30 years have in store!

This is the Salons Direct story…1992 to now

Salons Direct is a family business – Our founders Valerie & Gareth with their daughters Danielle, Gemma, and their son in law Graham, who also work within the business.

How did you find your start in the Salon Industry?

In 1992, we decided we wanted to start a mail-order business but were unsure what market to offer products to. Gareth owned several hair and barber salons at the time, so it seemed like an obvious fit, as he knew the many products we could supply them with.


We saw a gap in the market, as there had never been a mail-order catalogue for the professional hairdresser before.

Historically hairdressers would buy their essential products from a local ‘Cash & Carry’. However, we thought we could offer a much more extensive range of products than the traditional ‘Cash & Carry’ stores…and have the products delivered directly to the customer’s door.

Can you tell us more about what it was like in the early days of Salons Direct? – Before websites and social media

When we put together the very first Salons Direct catalogue, we did our own photography around the kitchen table (and in those days, we had to take the film to get developed). We cut out these pictures, placed them in a ‘catalogue’ format and sent them to a designer to add ‘product text’ and print our first copies.

Early days of the business in the Roberts’ family home

Our first catalogue was printed in 1993, and everything was such a long process. At this time, Valerie was still working, and our two daughters, Danielle and Gemma, were still at school. Some days they would come home in the evening to find they could hardly get through the front door for postbags full of orders waiting to be dropped at the post office.

What challenges did you experience when growing the Salons Direct business?

We came across many suppliers who thought the idea would not work, but we just had a gut feeling that if we gave a good selection of products and offered a good service, this would be the way forward. We had suppliers coming for meetings at our house, even flying over from Germany! Some loved the idea, others not so sure, but they decided to help and give it a go.


For the first couple of years, we turned our semi-detached house into a warehouse & office, and every room became some storage for products. 

After our first year, an accountant would probably have said it was not working, but we believed this way of selling would work for the professional hairdressing industry if we stuck at it. The ‘gut’ feeling and lots and lots of late nights and hard work enabled us to prove this.

Stock being stored in Gareth & Valerie’s family home!

Tell us more about the growth of Salons Direct through the last three decades…

We first tested the market by visiting one of the professional hairdressing trade shows in London and distributed a few catalogues to see who would pick it up and take a look. We then sent out our first postal mailings after dipping our toes in the water. We started by splitting the country up into postcode areas and sent our catalogue to hairdressing salons throughout the UK.


We can still remember how excited we were when our first orders arrived in the post!! We would pack them as quickly as possible and get them out for our customers who could not believe they had received their orders the next day – we had started something! The kitchen dining table was soon turned into a packing table by day, and the whole house was turned into our workplace.


The following year, to raise awareness of Salons Direct, we decided to take a small stand at one of the professional hairdressing shows in London, which was a significant investment for us! We hired a van and had it loaded to bursting point. It was a tiny stand, and we were in awe of the enormous stands and companies exhibiting.

The weekend turned out to be a massive success for Salons Direct, and our stand was so busy! We even had to enlist the help of our daughters, calling them at home and asking them to travel down to London to help Gemma, aged 14 and Danielle, aged 17!

It didn’t end there, though; even driving back after the show, we were busy taking calls and orders. We would answer any time of day or night, and we were so excited to make this business dream come true.


We could not cope working from home anymore, and in 1995 the decision was made to rent some premises locally and take on some staff to help. Two of the first people to join us were Chris Taylor and Gary Calcott, who are still working for us today!


Our daughters Danielle and Gemma had been away at University and taken some time to travel. They had been involved a little from the start helping out at shows, but they both decided that they would like to be part of the family business on their return. To have them be part of the business, too, was perfect. They could bring new and fresh ideas.

Their first project was to open a store and furniture showroom for Salons Direct. We didn’t want it to be like every other ‘Cash & Carry’ around. We wanted this to be a much better shopping experience for the hairdresser.


Before we knew it, our store was up and running, and we won an award for the best’ Cash & Carry’!

Then came the internet…

We were the first professional hairdressing supplier to have a website, launching in 2002, alongside still producing our catalogues. 

Many of our competitors didn’t think web sales would survive and still have a brick-and-mortar business model with multiple stores. At one point, we were running the business from several warehouses on the same site, and logistically this was not ideal, so we decided it would be best to buy our own warehouse. In 2017 we moved into our very own premises in Bromborough, Wirral. 

Our HQ in Bromborough


Our new 72,000 square feet premises means we run more efficiently, with everything is under the one roof; warehouse, head office, call centre, store and furniture showroom. At first, it seemed far too big, but we knew there was room to allow us to grow. A few years later, as the business keeps growing, we’re now using all the space!


What has been your proudest moment during the life of Salons Direct?

When you look back over the years of Salons Direct, we have had many proud moments. From printing and distributing our first catalogue in 1993, with its first order (which we still have!) and our daughters Danielle and Gemma joining the business in 2003. 


In the following years, we launched a website, created our brand, employed a great team, moved to our warehouse, and became a well-thought-of and reputable supplier within the industry. 

We are just very proud to have started a business from nothing, an idea that no one else had thought of doing and with the help of great people on board along the way, bring Salons Direct to where it is today!

Inside our warehouse

What do you love most about being a part of the salon industry and community?

We did pick the best industry to be in! Being part of the salon industry and community has been terrific fun. It is young, fashionable, and creative. It has also enabled us to visit countries worldwide and many parts of Italy and China. The social side has been great fun, too, attending awards and exhibitions and meeting talented professionals who love the industry.

What do you predict for the future of the salon industry?

No one could have predicted the last few years with the pandemic and its effect on so many businesses. Unfortunately for some salons, they may not reopen, others have survived, but only time will tell the actual results. We can foresee that there may be more mobile hairdressers/nail techs or individuals opening a small salon in their homes. 

There will undoubtedly be more competition now with the online service. Still, we have been in a very fortunate position to supply our customers throughout the lockdown. In contrast, many of our competitors have multiple stores and have had to close their premises. It is now time for us to keep one step ahead and make sure we remain the ‘go to’ place to shop online for hair, beauty and barbering!

What would you say the key to success has been for Salons Direct?

Having been in the industry now for 30 years, we would say that the key to the success of Salons Direct is having a true passion for the business, making ideas work, thinking of new ways to approach things, being positive, and overcoming obstacles and not standing still. We are very proud to have started this business and to have such great teams working on pushing the company even further.

There always seem to be new avenues to follow, which makes Salons Direct so exciting….watch this space!


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