Turkish barbers show they are top of the crops as customers line up for the VIP treatment
PUBLISHED: 16:40 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 22:40 02 October 2019
With men more concerned than ever before about looking good - and following the current fashion for expertly groomed facial hair - barbers shops have become the fastest growing business on the high street, with more than 800 opening across the country last year.
And, with a reputation for being the best in the world, Turkish barbers are cashing in on the trend, with customers lining up to experience the classic hot towel and cut-throat shave accompanied by precision haircut and added pampering - from massage, to unwanted hair removal.
In Norfolk, towns ranging from Norwich and Diss, to Watton, Dereham and Kings Lynn now boast Turkish barbers, with more opening up almost every month.
Solomon Yilmaz, who hails from Izmir, in western Turkey, trained as a barber in Manchester before heading to north Norfolk to open North Walsham Gents with his business partner Ali Gawer a year ago.
He opened a second premises in West Street, Cromer, two weeks ago after investing £37,000 in refitting a former vape shop and, in November, will be launching a third barbers in High Street, Sheringham.
"I really wasn't expecting it to move so quickly, but we had customers coming to us from places like Great Yarmouth and Norwich," Mr Yilmaz, 30, said. "I think that what people like is that we don't care who you are - whether you are seven or 70, once you sit down in the chair, you're a VIP.
As well as offering everything from head and shoulder massage, to eyebrow threading, Mr Yilmaz says his staff - most of whom are also Turkish - are always ready to lend a listening ear.
"It's not just about cutting hair," he said. "Men - and older men in particular - find it difficult to talk about their problems, but, after half an hour in the chair, their guard goes down and they'll open up."
Now on the look-out for a fourth premises, Mr Yilmaz, who moved to the UK to be near his eight-year-old, English-born son, eventually hopes to franchise his business and open traditional Turkish barbers shops all over the country.
"People will always need a haircut, and I want to keep on investing in new shops and training more staff so I can offer jobs to local people," he said."