NEWS

‘Hooters of haircutting’ coming to New England

Dan McDonald

Known among the nation's glitterati as the “Hooters of haircutting'' and the “day spa for dudes,'' Knockouts Haircuts for Men will open its first New England location on Rte. 9 this fall.

Knockouts - a boxing-themed spa and salon for men - offers haircuts, hair coloring and lightener, manicures, pedicures, hair waxing and massages.

Dishing out such pampering? Females in short shorts and form-fitting tops - referred to under copyrighted nomenclature by the company's brass as “Knockouts Girls.''

“We do hire attractive females,'' said CEO Tom Friday from his Irving, Texas, office Monday. “It's like the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. It's cool and a lot of fun.''

The company, which sold the franchise rights to four New England states to Boston residents Bing and Winnie Yeo in June 2007, plans to open a site at 328 Worcester Road - near Rte. 126 - by the beginning of September.

Bing Yeo said he envisions opening 20 salons in the region. The company has more than 300 locations in 22 states.

A “Heavyweight'' haircut, which includes a free beverage, two shampoos, a head massage and a hot-towel treatment, costs about $30.

He said the men's day spa industry has grown twice as fast as the women's sector in recent years.

“There are higher grooming standards for men now,'' Friday said.

Now, Yeo hopes to capitalize.

The key to Knockouts' success, said Yeo, will hinge on providing a place where men are comfortable walking in and getting spa treatments.

Yeo hopes to offer a welcoming alternative to barbershops and women's spas that dissuade men from getting a heated stone back rub or pedicure.

“The men's market has been underserved for years,'' he said.

Knockouts will attempt to cater to that burgeoning clientele.

“The professional and friendly Knockouts Girls, the comfortable leather chairs, TVs everywhere, and the latest car, sports, and men's-related magazines, it's all here. Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies Home Journal are not allowed,'' Yeo said in a statement.

Before becoming Knockouts New England franchiser, Yeo said he was general manager at EXPO Design center, overseeing 150 employees and responsible for more than $40 million in annual sales.

Framingham's location makes it ideal for the region's first Knockouts, Yeo said.

“I wanted a suburb with the population to support the business,'' he said. “We were looking for a place to live, work, play, and eat.''

Dan McDonald can be reached at 508-626-4416 or at dmcdonal@cnc.com.