Opera singing hairdresser opens the show at grand opening of £90,000 refurbished salon

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AN opera singing hairdresser hit all the right notes at the grand opening of a £90,000 cutting-edge hair salon which was ruined by a freak flood a year ago.

The team at Francesco Group Chester welcomed the Deputy Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Razia Daniels, to a special event which marked their triumphant return to the newly refurbished salon on Bridge Street.

There was a special performance from Francesco apprentice hairdresser and mezzo soprano Faith Reade who joined Chester Cathedral Choir at the age of 10 and has sung alongside Welsh singer Aled Jones.

She has performed on television on countless occasions over the years – including a live appearance on BBC1 on Christmas Day – as well as travelling across Europe with the choir.

Her performance of love song, Caro Mio Ben, by Italian operatic composer Giuseppe Giordani, sung in Latin, opened the evening which was followed by a catwalk show of the latest hair style trends and speeches by salon director Matt Haylor and Francesco Group Managing Director Ben Dellicompagni.

The catwalk hair models were dressed in evening wear supplied by nearby business Diane Harbridge Bridal, Prom and Evening Wear.

In October last year, the Francesco team had to shut down immediately when sewage from another building flooded the basement area.

With the help of Cheshire West and Chester Council, the team found a temporary home in an empty hair salon round the corner in Watergate Street where they continued to trade successfully while extensive repair work was carried out to restore the former salon to its full glory.

For Salon Director Matt Haylor, who took over the franchise in March with his wife Sam, after building up another successful Francesco Group franchise in Staffordshire, it was the end of a challenging journey for the couple who have a three-month-old son Isaac.

Matt, who has worked for Francesco Group for his entire 18-year career, said: “It has been a fantastic evening and I really can’t thank my team enough for making this all happen.

“Together we have sailed through some stormy waters and this week, they have worked so hard to make sure we were ready for tonight and now I think we can all see some much clearer skies.

“The future is exciting for us all. We have this fantastic new salon to work from and now it is all about providing a happy environment for them to work in where they can continue to develop professionally. That’s very important to Francesco Group and is one of the reasons I have been with them for my entire career.

“I also can’t thank our loyal clients enough for sticking by us through this difficult period. They deserve this lovely new salon too and our aim now is to strive to be the best hair salon in Chester.”

One of those clients enjoying the evening was Andrea Killick, 31, of Westminster Park, Chester.

The lawyer, who is Mum to four-month-old Leonardo, said: “They are a great, sociable and friendly team and I wanted to be here to support them after the difficulties they have faced.

“The evening has been fantastic and I love the look of the new salon. It’s glam and classy but quite refreshingly simple too. It’s not fussy and I shall look forward to having my hair done here soon.”

Francesco Group Managing Director Ben Dellicompagni, whose father Francesco founded the family firm in 1968 which now has more than 40 salons and four training academies, said: “It has been an incredible journey and on that journey there has been some real lows. It shouldn’t be forgotten that it has taken blood, sweat and tears to get here.

“When I got here this evening, I had to take a little moment to really take in all that has been achieved. It is practically a year to the day that the flood happened and it was quite devastating.

“It’s hard to express just how difficult it was to close the doors on a successful salon, move to another that wasn’t our home and continue to keep things going.

“Matt and his team have done an amazing job and I really couldn’t be prouder. We are a family firm of 48 years and we see every salon as another family who we need to support and ensure they have everything they need to be successful.

“I know he has the team in position, in a fabulous city, and the future couldn’t look more positive.”

Deputy Lord Mayor of Chester, Razia Daniels, who attended the event with her consort and husband Stephen, also congratulated the team and said: “I must pay tribute to all the hard work of Matt and his team and I am very impressed with their beautiful new salon.

“It’s very hard when you have a dramatic incident such as a flood which comes out of the blue like that but they have carried on and got through it and I have been delighted to be here for their celebration evening and I wish them all the very best.”

For more information about Francesco Group Chester go to www.francescogroup.co.uk/salons/chester.php

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