Former salon owner’s two-year legal battle ends

Jean Mays. Photo by Jeremy Long.

Jean Mays. Photo by Jeremy Long. - Credit: Archant

A former Portishead beauty firm owner has spoken out following a near two-year legal battle that forced her to leave the salon which bears her name.

Jean Mays. Photo by Jeremy Long.

Jean Mays. Photo by Jeremy Long. - Credit: Archant

Jean Mays has told the Times of her ‘two-year hell’, as she seeks to clear up the ‘myths and legends’ about her sudden departure from Jean Mays Hair and Beauty in 2013.

Contracts and legal proceedings meant she was not able to tell people what happened before now, and she even avoided going into parts of Portishead town centre because she would be asked why she left.

Jean, who has styled hair for stars including Jan Leeming, has been in the salon business for more than 50 years and was ‘gobsmacked’ when Chris Ford, who sorted the company accounts out, made an offer to buy the business from her in August 2013.

Jean and her husband John accepted the offer, but only if the 70-year-old was given a two-year consultancy deal because she was not ready to retire.

However difficulties soon arose, and after just 26 days, the consultancy agreement was ended.

It sparked a long legal battle, which restricted not only on what Jean could say, but also prevented her from working within 10 miles of Portishead.

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Jean, as a ‘girl from Portishead’, said it was a nightmare period.

She said: “The salon and my clients have been my life for the past 40 years.

“I will never retire and I was devastated to be deprived of that so quickly.

“When I sold the business, I had agreed to work within the business and was excited to have the daily buzz and excitement of looking after my clients and make their day special until this was unexpectedly and suddenly denied me which caused me months and months of hurt and anger as this is not the way I do business.

“I have had two years of hell.”

After almost two years, Mr Ford agreed to settle during mediation for an undisclosed sum earlier this summer.

Jean, who lives in Fedden Village, says she has not been able to walk past the salon in The Precinct since leaving in autumn 2013. She said: “I don’t want to see the place destroyed.

“We aren’t looking to be vindictive. We just want to explain what happened.

“I won’t walk past it because it was a big part of me and I wasn’t allowed to go in.”

Instead, Jean is already looking to the future and hopes to open a new business soon in Portishead.

She said: “I’m overjoyed to get a successful result and have all this behind me and I can finally tell my clients what really happened and get back to what makes me truly happy – looking after people’s hair.

“I wish we could take the Jean Mays name with me but at least now all my clients know why I am not there and they know how much I care about them.

“I’m very grateful to all the clients who have supported me over the years and can’t thank enough all of my wonderful staff for their loyalty and dedication.”

Mr Ford, when approached by the Times, said: “The case was resolved by mediation, which is a confidential process.”