Salon owners claim they were forced to cut and run from Falkirk shopping centre

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A hairdressers has called it quits on Falkirk town centre after a disastrous nine-month nightmare which eventually saw them locked out of their own business.

Bosses at Callender Square shopping centre said the salon owners had become “unhelpful” towards the end of their stay and had built up rent arrears.

Gary Philip and his partner opened Phantom Hair and Beauty in the centre in April last year after they had built up their successful Hair Bistro business in Tullibody and were looking to expand.

“It was going brilliantly,” said Gary. “When we saw this place in Callendar Square advertised on Facebook saying it was a fully fitted salon which just needed a bit of TLC we thought that would be perfect.”

So in February last year they closed the Hair Bistro down and moved into the space in the top floor of Callendar Square.

However, they were hit by one setback after another.

“We were supposed to open in March 2018, but part of the ceiling came down and repairs had to be done. We opened in April 2018 and it went quite well for the first few weeks – then the lift broke down.

“It was actually broken for three months – from May to July – and when we asked when it was going to be fixed we were told next week. Many of our clients could not access the top floor without the lift.

“We also had hairdressers who were renting space from us and they just left as well. The whole buzz of the salon opening died. We knew the place needed a lot of work but we were told the management of the square would give us help to repair it.

“As soon as we signed the deal we were on our own. I mean there was still smoke damage here from when people were allowed to smoke in the salon. In October we told management we think we’re going to have to leave and they told us we owed them £6500.

“We are on the verge of bankruptcy. The owners were not interested – they have ruined our business and they have ruined our reputation because we have not been able to give the service we had become known for in Tullibody.

“We would never have taken on the premises if we had been told we would have had to do this on our own.”

Gary and his partner had been planning to leave the business on Saturday, January 26, packing all their equipment and vacating the shopping centre.

However, after talking to the Falkirk Herald on Thursday last week, Gary arrived at the salon last Friday morning to find management had put a lock on the door and entry could only be made by appointment.

Karim Virani, director of Callender Square owners Cygnet Properties and Leisure, said he wishes Gary all the best and did not want his business to leave the shopping centre. “They were terribly in arrears, they were making no payments and no attempt to settle their liabilities with instalments or anything. They offered no goodwill, when I requested their co-operation in relation to alternate viewings before their expiry the request was flatly refused.”

Mr Virani believed Phantom Hair and Beauty should have been more successful.

“When they said they were leaving it wasn’t what I wanted to hear,” said Mr Virani. “I like to hear tenants are doing well and making a good go of it. My feeling is they could have done more.

“I would have loved them to stay the course and go the distance.”

Mr Virani said Phantom Hair and Beauty owner Gary Philip had become unhelpful in the last month.

“What turned the knife was he was totally uncooperative with me when I asked for access. If we have an empty shop it becomes very difficult to fill again, so I said I would like to come in and have people view the premises before the end of the month. I think he took offence at that.

“I wasn’t trying to push him out – it was Gary who gave me notice he was leaving. I was expecting a little bit of courtesy from him.”

Mr Virani admitted the business doing badly was partly his fault, but only because he took steps – investing £50,000 – to completely repair the centre’s lift rather than make temporary fixes.

“I wish Gary well wherever he goes,” said Mr Virani. “It’s a shame it came to this. We have had some people come and some go, it’s not all been plain sailing. Callendar Square is a great shopping centre and I’ve got to take my hat off to everyone in my team who have worked hard to get it filled with tenants.”