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Co-founder Lynden Mason Exits NZ’s Largest Hairdressing Group

Lynden Mason, co-founder of New Zealand's largest hairdressing group, has sold his remaining stake in the company.

Mason is now shifting his focus towards philanthropic efforts and consultancy work.

The Vivo group, which Mason, as a minority shareholder, co-founded with managing director and majority owner James Carlisle, boasts over $50 million in annual revenue and employs more than 600 staff across 83 salons nationwide. Recognised as the largest hairdressing network in the Southern Hemisphere, Vivo has experienced rapid growth, at times expanding by up to 27 new branches annually.

A transaction in 2020 saw Mason sell half of his minority shareholding to a local private equity fund. He has now sold his remaining shares to the same fund for an undisclosed amount, marking his complete exit from the business. Mason attributes Vivo’s impressive expansion to a combination of greenfield developments and strategic acquisitions, leading to double-digit growth nearly every year.

Mason attributes Vivo’s impressive expansion to a combination of greenfield developments and strategic acquisitions, leading to double-digit growth nearly every year.

“We crafted a globally scalable model that prioritised rewarding our stylists. We even explored international opportunities, but the COVID-19 pandemic shifted our focus back to domestic growth,” he explains.

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Beyond his success in hairdressing, Mason, a registered optometrist, has also launched New Zealand’s first online contact lens retailer and a network of optometry clinics.

Currently, he is dedicating his expertise to a charitable healthcare and education initiative aimed at diagnosing and treating vision problems among vulnerable children.

Having grown up in South Auckland, Mason is passionate about giving back to his community by enhancing access to healthcare services.

“Vision issues in young people often go unnoticed. When students struggle to see reading material, they can become frustrated and may be wrongly labelled as disruptive, which can negatively impact their educational and life outcomes,” Mason says.

“Early identification and intervention can remove a significant barrier to learning for up to 30% of intermediate-aged students, making a profound difference in their lives. I’m excited to contribute as a clinician where I can,” he says.

Mason credits his wife, Tereze Taber, who played a pivotal role as the brand developer for Vivo, for much of the business’s success. She has also stepped away from the company alongside Mason.

Looking ahead, Mason is not only committed to charitable initiatives but also exploring new business ventures, including launching a consultancy for retail and other industries.

“Initially, my business strategy was data-driven, directing employees based on numbers. However, when Tereze joined Vivo six years ago, her insights prompted a complete shift in my leadership approach.

“Now, I understand that data reflects the experiences and behaviours of people. Growth happens naturally when employees feel part of something larger and can contribute meaningfully,” he says.

Reflecting on his journey with Vivo, Mason states,

“The achievement I’m most proud of is being an engaged owner, focusing on people—collaborating with teams across New Zealand, developing strategies, and implementing tactics that address challenges and foster opportunities. The empowerment and growth culture we developed can benefit many New Zealand businesses, and I’m eager to share these insights through mentoring,” he says.

With two successful business exits under his belt, Mason is now exploring a variety of new ventures, including both startups and acquisitions across different industries.

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