As the large iron gates in front of Red Hall House slowly open, two excited young Japanese Akita dogs come bounding out to greet their owners.
Dr Faisal Arshad 37, and his wife, Sommiya, enter the building’s expansive grounds in their white Range Rover Sport and park in front of the majestic 17th century building.
The couple, founders of private hair transplant clinic The Hair Dr, have ambitious plans to turn the former Rugby League Football headquarters in North Leeds into a private multi-disciplinary hospital.
They only received the keys a few weeks ago after making their £1.65m investment but work has already started to improve the grounds of the building while they wait for planning permission for a large extension.
The existing grade two listed building will be used for administrative purposes and the extension will house four operating theatres specialising in day case procedures and comfort areas, which will look out onto woodland and greenery.
The couple are keen to retain the original features of the main building. They even plan to keep a wall in the former boardroom, where we sit for the interview, which features the Rugby Football League timeline.
“There’s a lot history in this room and we want to retain that,” Dr Arshad says.
Their current clinic in Dewsbury, and all 20 staff, will move into the new building after all the work has been completed. They anticipate that 40 new jobs will be created by moving the business to the new, larger site, which is close the new East Leeds Orbital Route.
Dr Arshad wants to create the UK’s foremost private independent medical practice specialising in cosmetic and non-cosmetic day case surgeries. He plans to offer a range of other procedures, from knee operations to cataract removal, in addition to hair restoration surgery, which he says will take some of the pressure off the NHS.
The company is careful about the investments it makes. It doesn’t have a huge marketing budget, preferring instead to invest in staff and its premises.
“We want to provide the right environment for such a sensitive procedure,” says Dr Arshad.
“It’s quite a daunting experience. People don’t want to go to the high street - they don’t want to have to worry about parking or who might see them. This is quite secluded and it’s a safe environment. It ticks all the boxes.”
The other reason for the purchase is that demand for hair transplants has expanded hugely in the last year under what’s been dubbed as the ‘Zoom boom’.
Within days of the first covid lockdown last year, the business saw a 60 per cent rise in enquiries. It took on new staff, including a third surgeon, to cope with the demand.
“People became more conscious of their image because they were seeing themselves on Zoom,” Dr Arshad says.
“The angle of the camera on laptops and computers captures the hairline and a lot of people who might not usually focus on that were suddenly seeing it from a new angle.”
The clinic, which had a £2m turnover last year, sees a wide variety of clients from all over the UK and 10 per cent of those seeking treatment are female. But its average client is a business man in his forties.
The clinic is careful not to offer surgery to younger people in their twenties.
“Some unethical clinics lower the hairline too much and that can lead to problems for the patient later on in life when we see those patients back,” Dr Arshad says. “Whatever treatments we undertake are done in a way that looks at the patient’s potential future hair loss.”
The clinic doesn’t promote unrealistic body images on its website either. It doesn’t feature young patients with fantastic hair, instead focusing on real case studies from its clinic.
It also doesn’t promote a low hairline or encourage patients to undergo surgery in the early stages of hair loss, preferring to see patients when the hair loss has stabilised.
Hair transplants at the clinic cost between £4,000 and £89,000 depending on the size of the procedure.
Hair restoration techniques have dramatically changed over the last 15 years. Advances in the way hair graphs are harvested and improved optics for the surgery has improved the process, resulting in a more natural look.
“The procedure is a lot more refined, making the hairline a lot softer and not looking ‘pluggy’”, says Dr Arshad. “That has been a huge development for the hair transplant industry.”
Born in Dewsbury, Dr Arshad attended Batley Grammar School where his love of science led to teachers encouraging him to consider a career in medicine.
He completed his medical degree at Leeds University, higher surgical training in Sheffield and gained a Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons at Oxford University Hospitals, specialising in head and neck surgery.
He met Sommiya, a trained audiologist, while both working at Sheffield Hospital. In 2017, after 10 years working in the NHS, they decided to move into the private sector and set up their own hair transplant clinic.
The pair now live in Dewsbury with their three-year-old son.
“Head and neck surgery is a very dynamic field. The whole head and neck area was something that I was looking at in terms of rejuvenation and restoration and that led me into hair transplants,” says Dr Arshad.
The business has been named hair restoration clinic of the year at the Prestige Awards for small businesses. It also went viral on social media last year when it fixed a botched hair transplant for free after a 26-year-old from Bradford had a distressing experience in Turkey. “Being able to help someone like that was a highlight for us personally,” he says.
Dr Arshad describes himself as a hardworking optimist. “Sometimes people create obstacles in their own mind in terms of what they can achieve. I think if you work with the right people and you have good relationships, the sky’s the limit,” he says.
Title: Consultant head/neck and facial plastic surgeon
Date of birth: January 17, 1984
Education: Batley Grammar School; Medical degree - University of Leeds; Member of Royal College of Surgeons of England (MRCS); Diploma in Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow); Fellowship Royal College of Surgeons of England (FRCS); Fellowship in Head & Neck Surgery - Oxford University Hospitals
First job: Working in the surgical department at Dewsbury District Hospital
Favourite holiday destination: Manhattan, New York
Favourite song: Summer of ‘69, by Bryan Adams
Favourite film: The Great Gatsby
Last book read: The Art and Science of Extended Deep Plane Facelifting and Complementary Facial Rejuvenation Procedures, by Andrew A Jacaono
Most proud of: The achievements of my wife, Sommiya