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‘Devastation’ as Academy Salon and Training School announces Portadown closure

'We also want to thank our great staff members. They have worked very hard to provide our customers with a great experience over the years'

A business owner based at the Academy Hair & Beauty Training School in Portadown has spoken of her surprise after the announcement the campus is due to close.

The Portadown campus of the popular beauty school is set to close its doors on Saturday, March 30, with operations being re-located to the Belfast and Newry campuses.

Set up in Belfast in 1976, the Academy went on to open a number of campuses, including in Portadown, to help expand their offering in hairdressing and beauty therapy training.

Alongside the training college, the Portadown campus also offered a salon where customers could avail of treatments conducted by students-in-training.

Kalocsa Szabina, who owns Let’s Roll Sports Massage, says she was shocked by the announcement, having only moved her business into a space on the premises just last week.

“It was an unfortunate thing to happen,” she said. “Even the manager didn’t know it was going to happen so I’m absolutely not blaming her.”

She continued: “I was starting out in the salon with basically zero clientele from Portadown, as most of my existing clients are from the Lurgan area. I’ve hosted an open day, offering free massages, ran paid ads on Facebook offering massive discounts to try fill up the spaces, so I’ve put some effort into it.

“I was hoping the salon would bring some great opportunities to build up my business, as it was in a great location on the main street of Portadown, but I’ll just have to find a different way to expand my business. I can call myself lucky, that I wasn’t one of those girls losing their jobs.”

The closure of the Portadown branch was announced in a Facebook post last weekend, with the page thanking all customers for the memories made over the years.

The post read: “Many of you will have seen or heard that our final day of business will be Saturday 30th March 2024. It is with deep regret that we have had to make this decision.

“Unfortunately the Academy Salon and Academy college Portadown will be closing and relocating back to the main Belfast campus in Rosemary Street and Mill street, Newry Campus.

“We would like to thank all our loyal customers for their many years of custom and friendship over the last eleven years, it has meant a great deal to us to be part of the Portadown community.

“We also want to thank our great staff members. They have worked very hard to provide our customers with a great experience over the years.”

Among those reacting to the shock news was Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart, who described it as “very sad news”.

She said: “Really devastating and quite a shock for those who work in the premises. News like this is a real blow to the workers, their families, customers and to the local economy. I have had numerous employees get in touch seeking support so feel free to get in touch if you have any concerns.

“I have made contact with the Economy Department seeking support for these workers and to ask for clarity around the funding package for trainee hairdressing and the fact that it has supposedly been pulled for training initiatives such as this.”

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