Like many small businesses in the UAE right now, Chaps & Co, the hipster men’s barbershop, is hurting. Managing partner Jordan Davies tells EDGAR recent weeks under the corona lockdown have been “brutal” for his co-partner Chris Browne and their 65 staff but believes there is light at the end of the tunnel and has been touched by messages of support from customers.
Davies and Browne speak to their staff – none of whom have fallen ill to corona – via an internal online noticeboard most days. At first, the messages were informative and related to government instructions regarding corona safety, but lately, as the lockdown tightens its grip on the country, they’ve tried to offer emotional help.
“The language has become more motivational,” explains Davies. “We’re trying to keep everyone upbeat and engaged so we talk about being a strong team, which I think is helping with camaraderie.”
After hearing from concerned staff, Davies and Browne decided to close their six shops – Marina, D3, JLT, The Lakes, Abu Dhabi and Caesars Resort – on March 23, two days before the official government shutdown. “Our team were telling us they didn’t feel safe and that’s when we said enough is enough, our staff are more important than money.” Staff are currently on paid holiday, but when that runs out, Davies and Browne will be forced to put their team on unpaid leave.