Value of Beauty 2023: UK industry champions SMEs and retains high street stronghold

by | Apr 26, 2023

The British Beauty Council’s newest report Value of Beauty 2023 spotlights the power of the industry for promoting entrepreneurship, supporting social mobility, and touching the lives of thousands across Britain

The UK’s personal care sector has long been a breeding ground for innovative micro businesses. From the likes of Neal’s Yard Remedies in the 1980s to last year’s science-backed launch of Cultured Biomecare, British challenger brands have merged local ingredients with cutting-edge technology to create global brands. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) continue to characterise the beauty industry, according to the Value of Beauty 2023 25% more SMEs were registered in 2022 in comparison to 2015, five times faster than the number of small businesses formed in the manufacturing industry in the same period. 

This exponential growth despite structural challenges – including Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic – proves that the industry and those working within it remain continuously resilient and are driven to push creative boundaries for growth. 

Evidence from Companies House, the government agency that oversees the registering and dissolving of businesses across the UK, reinforces this sentiment. In January 2022, its investigation The expansion of the beauty industry in the UK reads: ‘Before 2014, fewer than 500 registered companies had ‘beauty’ in their name, but in each year since then, more than 500 companies with beauty in their name have registered.’

As increasing numbers of entrepreneurs enter the beauty industry, British high streets are reaping the benefits. According to the Local Data Company, beauty salons and nail salons ranked in the top 10 fastest-growing retail categories last year. 

Positively, this development was not solely city-based – in fact, beauty’s business footprint spread throughout the nation. The British Beauty Council’s report highlights this reach when considering the employment opportunities witnessed across the country. 

To investigate this, Oxford Economics – the econometric analyst tasked with re-evaluating the industry – ranked local authorities based on the jobs provided by the beauty industry. It found that, whilst the industry employed over 550,000 in 2022, there were the same amount of opportunities available in the highest and lowest areas of deprivation. 

Accounting for one in every 50 jobs in the UK, the beauty industry offers unique opportunities that harness a diverse range of skills and expertise. Not only can people find jobs in consumer-facing roles like retail and make-up artistry, but there are also numerous roles further up the supply chain in areas including product formulation and data analysis. 

However, there is often a lack of awareness surrounding these latter opportunities. In order to inform young people about these roles, the British Beauty Council launched its Future Talent Programme. It’s an initiative designed to engage 11 to 18-year-olds in career development opportunities in beauty and STEM-based roles. 

After all, consumers wouldn’t have been able to spend a £2.7bn on cosmetic products last year without the packaging experts, formulators, and logistics managers. Although this figure represents a drop in spending in comparison to previous years, retailers still made up a significant portion of the tax contributions made by the industry in 2022.

At its peak in 2019, the retail industry made a total tax contribution of £2.1bn, this has rebounded to £1.8bn following a drop to £1.75bn as a result of the pandemic. 

Considering industry taxes more widely, labour contributions have increased from 2018 to 2022 (from £2.1 billion to £2.2 billion) and make up around 65% of the industry’s total input. This is indicative of the intensive nature of the work carried out across the sector, particularly when it comes to services like hairdressing and barbering. 

Impressively, these services have seen an impressive recovery post-Covid-19 which saw the closure of premises for months across three nationwide lockdowns. Since 2020, the GDP contribution of hair and beauty service providers has rebounded to £5.1 billion, 81% of its 2019 £6.2 billion pre-Covid-19 peak. 

With the Value of Beauty 2023 proving service sector bounce back, the footprint of beauty employment promoting careers across the nation and that SMEs are continuing to lead the way, the beauty industry upholds its influence as a source of creativity, confidence, and – importantly – careers for all. 


Read the Value of Beauty 2023

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