Swapping the battlefield for a west Leeds barber’s shop

Phil Townend.
Phil Townend.
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A year ago, Phil Townend was contemplating marking 20 years in the army with his second tour in Afghanistan.

But, today, life in Helmand seems a long way away as he concentrates instead on the challenges of building a reputation as a gentleman’s barber at a salon of his own in Stanningley.

Although he knew about the implications of cutbacks across the services, Phil admits he was surprised to find he qualified for voluntary redundancy from his post with the Pay Corps - part of the Adjutant General’s Corps, the army’s equivalent to human resources.

Nevertheless, he decided to take it as - after also serving in Iraq, Kosovo, Kenya - he was close to serving his time anyway.

As a result, in December, he launched his new business on Bradford Road.

Phil admits adjusting to Civvy Street hasn’t been all plain sailing and he’s sometimes found the absence of military precision and rigour in commercial perplexing.

Like any new business, finding a base, buying equipment and preparing for opening has also stretched his resources.

However, he has a clear idea of how he wants his barber’s business to develop - and has already recruited an apprentice as it begins to grow.

“I don’t want to run it to run like a sausage factory where you come in, get a quick trim and off you go,” he said. “I’d like to think we can attract the executive market where our clients don’t just book in for a haircut, but also a shave and some grooming which might take an hour.

“Employing an apprentice wasn’t really something I expected to be doing at this stage but it seems to be going well.

“We have a loyalty scheme up and running which we hope encourages people to come back - and I’m pleased we‘ve had quite a bit of positive feedback.”

Stephen Blake of the CMA  Photo: Vikki Ellis

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