Building a brand that’s a cut above the rest

Featured in The Telegraph on 24 October 2017 and as part of our Backing Ambition Tour, The Telegraph’s Rebecca Burn-Callander talks to Andy Phouli and Stell Andrews, co-founders of hair and beauty brand Rush.

For Rush, the ambition was there from the outset, it just got bigger over time.

“When we started we wanted to reach 12 salons in five years,” says Rush co-founder Andy Phouli. We’re at 91 now and the ambition is still there – except now we want to reach 150 within three years.”

Rush launched in 1994, starting out as a single salon in Wimbledon, 22 years on and it’s now a household name in the hairdressing industry, with the brand being recognised all over the world and winning multiple awards.

The secret to that success? People. “We have some fantastic talent working for us,” Stell says. “Our artistic team is one of the best in the world and we have a strong focus on training to keep standards high.”

Since LDC invested £16m in the business earlier this year, Rush has opened its very own training academy in Covent Garden to help train up its staff and ensure they are constantly able to develop their skills.

Stell and Andy are firm believers that quality is paramount in the hairdressing industry, and is the only way to secure repeat business. “We’re in the business of making people look and feel special, and that’s why they come back again and again.”

Rush now operates across 200,000 sq. ft. of property, which was largely funded by savings and bank support up until LDC’s investment. It also operates a franchise model which has helped grow the brand, as salon owners look to make the most of Rush’s reputation in the market.

When asked about how partnering with LDC has helped the business, Stell says: “They have given us more energy to meet our goals. It has helped us become more disciplined about the business’s growth and development, and to focus more on the economics of hairdressing – for example, how to optimise our retail space and best execute our rollout strategy.”

But for the pair, it’s not just the expertise and capital which has been beneficial. “It’s like having another friend on the board who brings a whole new perspective, focus and energy. We also have the bonus of ex Costa Coffee managing director Chris Rogers joining our board. It’s that extra magic that makes all the difference,” adds Andy.

What’s clear from the founders is that nothing will curb their ambition. Andy jokes, “Hair doesn’t stop growing in a recession and you still need it cut during Brexit.” Stell adds, “Luckily drones can’t cut hair.”

It’s this kind of attitude that exemplifies the management teams that LDC backs, showing drive and ambition to succeed.

The Backing Business Ambition tour has uncovered many firms, just like Rush, that are a true testament to the quality of businesses we have here in the UK. The role of private equity is to help unlock their growth, and help the country’s economy to thrive. 

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