Stylists' anger at facing the chopBy David Millward
November 13, 2012
Staff at a town centre hair salon say they have been left in shock after their employer closed down the business and told them they would not get paid because of gross misconduct.
Hairdressers at Koulla Swann, in Chain Street, were given nine days’ notice that the salon was to close but say they were promised their wages if they stayed to the end.
However, instead of a pay slip they received a letter accusing them of taking customer details, pocketing cash and stealing stock.
The hairdressers have denied any wrongdoing and have provided getreading with written statements giving their account of events.
But Mrs Swann, who runs another Koulla Swann salon in Newbury, is adamant the accusations are valid and has threatened to go to the police.
Karina Bondere, of West Reading, was creative stylist and in-house trainer at the Reading salon for nearly two years and says she is owed more than £3,000 in wages, bonuses and holiday pay.
The 27-year-old said: “I came back from holiday on October 18 and Koulla Swann came to the shop with her PA Jane Davis and they told us they were going to be closing the shop on October 27.
“We had been promised to be paid on October 31 by Jane Davis via email but instead of the salary we have received a letter stating that we are all redundant, the company has filed for insolvency and that we are not going to be paid at all.”
The letter also accused Ms Bondere and other colleagues of obtaining private customer data for their own use, not declaring money taken from customers and stealing items from the salon.
Creative stylist Wizdom Westlake, 22, of Central Reading, said: “We were told we were going to be paid 100 per cent so we moved clients’ appointments and the money we took in the last few days could have paid every single one of us.
“I have been left with no money to pay my rent and bills and am now in an extremely difficult situation.”
Billy Dormer, 19, of Whitley Wood, who started his first job at Koulla Swann as a trainee in July was told there were insufficient funds to pay the £400 he believes he is due.
Senior stylist Beth Price said she had worked in the industry for eight years and had never been treated so unfairly.
Ms Bondere told getreading: “I’m absolutely devastated. I’ve never come across anything like this before and I’m getting accused of things I’ve never done.” The individuals are now considering taking their cases to an employment tribunal.
Koulla Swann in Reading was owned by Crystal Salons Ltd which has ceased trading, while the Newbury branch is owned by Angel Salons Ltd.
Mrs Swann said: “The company has gone into liquidation so no-one has been paid. The landlord was demanding ridiculous rent and forced our hands and we had to close very, very quickly.”
Husband Kevin added: “Koulla worked extremely hard to keep the salon open.
“She was open and honest with everybody and told them what was going on.”
He added: “What was happening in the last week was we started to see money was disappearing and where clients were coming through they weren’t being checked out. Then they took the client database and walked into several other salons and said we have names and addresses of clients and we can bring them to you.
“Koulla wrote to them and said ‘we know what you have done, we could go to the police and deal with it that way but we don’t want to do that so let’s just draw a line under it’.
“Koulla has tried so hard to keep them in a job. It was hard enough for her to empty the salon because the landlord said if you don’t get out by tomorrow I will empty it for you.”
Mr Swann said the couple would now be forced to report matters to the police.