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Health and fitness 2012-02-29

Give shape to your profits

By Feature Writer
Give shape to your profits

Stressful lifestyle, busy schedule, and poor eating habits all calls for a world class fitness and slimming centre to fulfill the increasing need for healthy body and soul. VLCC having already spread its magnificence worldwide is here to cater to the growing need for wellness via franchising. Sandeep Ahuja, Managing Director, VLCC Health Care Ltd shares the brand’s success secret.

Neha Gohil (NG): Do you think opening a fitness centre is a lucrative business venture?

Sandeep Ahuja(SA): Fitness and slimming is a 40 billion market today, of which services also account for 65 per cent and is one of the fastest growing segments within the wellness domain. With stressful living, lack of time, poor eating habits and highly sedentary lifestyles – the need to keep fit and be in shape is more pronounced today than it ever was. Bollywood celebrities with six packs and size zero have also helped to promote the importance of fitness. And coupled with that is the present day mindset and social expectation to be fit and healthy. Today’s on-the-go executive wants to be in prim and proper shape and look good.

NG: How was the idea to start a business venture like VLCC conceptualised and what was the motivation behind starting this business?

SA: After completing her education in nutrition and cosmetology from Germany, Vandana Luthra was keen to translate her learning into something worthwhile. VLCC is a culmination of her vision to make health and beauty accessible to all segments of society, and even today, it is this drive that makes VLCC constantly explore new opportunities within her sphere of expertise to help transform people’s lives.

VLCC today has brand recall that is gratifyingly high in all the 9 countries that it currently operates in. And then to have taken VLCC beyond the shores and made it a dominant player in countries as diverse as UAE and Bangladesh is also a high point for me personally. Having said all this, my biggest joy has been getting the love and dedication of the nearly 7000 strong VLCC family.

NG: How many franchisees do the company presently has? What motivated you to expand via franchise route?

SA: Today we have over 160 VLCC slimming, beauty & fitness centres in India, of which 40 are franchised, and additionally there are another 15 franchise outlets that are in the pipeline and shall be operational in the coming three months or so. In addition, there are 51 VLCC Institutes of Beauty & Nutrition, 12 are franchisee-owned and run.

The motivation came from all the prospective enquiries for the services that we get from the unrepresented cities and towns of the country. Knowing that it would perhaps take us a long time to put up company owned centres in all these places, the management took a strategic call to expand rapidly via the franchisee route. We also know that there is no dearth of entrepreneurial drive and zeal across the length and breadth of the country. In fact, there are numerous enterprising individuals in most cities and towns who are looking for a sound business proposition to satisfy their entrepreneurial initiative, and VLCC has appealed to them as it provides them with a wonderful opportunity to be a part of this exciting and fast growing industry.

NG: What according to you are the advantages of running a franchise of fitness centre? Mention few challenges and how can they be overcome?

SA: For one, VLCC has a proven business formula, a strong and well entrenched brand, a corporate mindset that nurtures entrepreneurial spirit of a prospective investor, a central team that guides and mentors the new franchisee during his initial period of settling down in this new industry, and then there are good returns to be had on one’s investment in this brand and in this industry.

While there are scores of applicants wanting to acquire the franchise of VLCC, the biggest challenge in our view is to screen them in a way that we pick on the right person who can be entrusted with our precious brand.

NG: How much investment and area required by a franchisee?

SA: For a complete VLCC Centre that delivers both slimming and beauty services, a prospective franchise seeker would require a premises measuring approx. 1,500 sq. ft. (carpet area) in a suitably located part of the city, and his/her total investment could be in the region of Rs 36-38 lakh.

NG: What can you say about the future in this field? Is the fitness industry promising for entrepreneurs?

SA: The 490 billion Indian Wellness industry has been growing at a robust pace in the last few years and the trend is expected to continue well into the future. We are confident that there will be continued excitement in this field, with the early entrants gaining the maximum advantage.

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