Salon proves to be a cut above

It’s not often a small business from Aberdeenshire can claim to be fighting it out with some of the biggest names in global business.

However, Élan Hair Design, which has been owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Lorna and Gordon Milton since 1982, has found itself up against the likes of Ikea and O2 in the running for a prestigious business award.

The Inverurie salon has been named a finalist in the National Business Awards, which will be presented in London on November 10.

The company, which can lay claim to the title of the UK’s most eco-friendly salon, has been shortlisted for the Sustainable Business Award alongside a host of multi-national companies including the Swedish furniture retailer, which is soon to move into Aberdeen.

Élan is also a finalist in the Green Business of the Year category at the Scottish Business Awards, which will be hosted by Hollywood star George Clooney in Edinburgh on November 12.

The business completed a major “green” refurbishment project of its Inverurie town-centre premises three years ago. The £250,000 renovation of the salon looked at almost every element of the business with a view to making it more sustainable and eco-friendly.

Élan has found new ways of reducing its waste and the salon continues to work alongside local recycling businesses to ensure they optimise their recycling effectively and responsibly.

The salon is thought to be the first UK hairdressers to recycle hair waste after it devised a system to send hair clippings along with other biodegradable waste to be spread as compost on local farmers’ fields.

As a result of the green features applied during the renovation of Élan Hair Design, the salon has made energy efficient savings in commodities including water, heat and electricity.

Some of these features include the installation of PV (photovoltaic) panels which generate electricity, solar-thermal panels to provide energy for hot water, an air-source heat pump which saves 80% on heating costs and LED lighting that uses 80% less electricity.

The salon also returns unused energy to the National Grid – creating further cost benefits – and uses biodegradable/compostable towels and capes, therefore reducing the use of washing machines.

As a core part of the business’ activities, these changes have helped Élan achieve considerable savings, including an annual saving of £1,168 by reducing water consumption by 82%. In addition, the owners reduced electricity costs from £6,100 to £625 a year by switching to more energy-efficient technologies.

Lorna Milton, director at Élan Hair Design, said: “We have come so far over the past few years after the successful renovation. Becoming more sustainable and eco-friendly was what we set out to do and we most certainly achieved that.

“The multiple awards Élan has been nominated for and won in recent years reflects the amount of dedication and hard work put in by our whole team.”

The business has won 17 awards in the past three years, having been nominated for more than 60.

Most recently, the team came out on top in the Business In The Community category at the Scottish Chamber Awards and will now go on to compete for the national title later in the year.

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