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Beauty & Wellness 2012-09-20

Redefining the wellness concept

By Namita Bhagat Feature Writer

Aiming to make wellness a part of daily living and extend benefits of good health to all, Singapore based Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa forayed into India in 2009. In an interview, Vandana Virwani, MD of brand’s local partner Lyrus Fitness Pvt. Ltd, shares its expansion plans in India.

Namita Bhagat (NB): What is the origin and concept of Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa? How unique is the concept?

Vandana Virwani (VV): Kenko was started in Singapore in 1991 by Dr Jimi Tan. Kenko means wellness in Japanese and that's the service we provide to enhance the wellness of all people. Dr Tan has mixed the ancient method of reflexology which he learnt from his grand mother with an advanced method of American teaching that he learnt in America to create a unique method of thumb movement to rejuvenate the internal organs through the pressure points of the human body. Kenko concentrates on the pressure points which are directly connected to the organs to get the maximum benefits of wellness and rejuvenation rather than just do a muscle massage that gives temporary revilement. I came across Kenko in Singapore during my holidays trips. As I am a spa addict and love to pamper my self, I tried several Spas, but Kenko was the only place that made me feel alive after a full days walking and taking care of my three kids on holiday. Their method fascinated me and I decided some day I will bring them to India as it would benefit a lot of people.

NB: Tell us about the brand’s fish therapy.

VV: The fish Spa is also a new concept that Dr Tan started in Singapore after his visit to Japan. Fish Therapy has been very popular in Turkey and the Garraruffa Fish originated from there. These tiny fish have no teeth and nibble into the dead skin and allow the oxygen to flow freely into the body for better circulation of the blood. It also gives the feet a natural pedicure as the fish clean up the extra cuticles and soften the outer skin to look like a babies feet.

NB: Share brand's current presence in India? What is its potential in India, and how has it been received by Indian customers till now?

VV: Kenko is a franchise set up and it signed Lyrus Fitness Pvt. Ltd as its master franchisee in India. It started in Bangalore in 2009 with one outlet. Initially when Kenko started its services and introduced the Fish Spa there was a lot or curiosity and apprehension. People did not know the difference between a massage and a reflexology. We had to do a lot of trials and educate them that reflexology works for an overall wellness of the body by releasing toxins, rejuvenating internal organs and helps intake of oxygen where as massage only eases off the muscle and gives a temporary relaxation. Today people know that our products are good with long term benefits they appreciate and recognise our services.

NB: How and why did the company decide on the franchise model for expansion in the country?

VV: A year ago when we saw that we are getting a positive response and are able to help lot of chronic cases of sinus, back problem and even cancer patients who are undergoing chemo therapy, we decided to expand as the purpose was to spread the services far and wide to extend the reflexology benefits. Hence we decided to sub franchise some outlets and hold our own individual in all major cities.

NB: What is the approximate requirement in terms of capital and area to partner with you as a franchisee? What kind of training and support is given to them?

VV: Kenko Spa can set up with all services in the area of 1,200 – 5,000 sq. ft with an average cost of Rs 1,200 to 2,000.  For all initial training Kenko Singapore sends a support system. Training is done for two weeks after that the therapist is required to practice for a month at least. We, on regular bases, keep enhancing the standards and maintain a discipline that all outlets follow.

NB: What are the challenges and competition in the market? How will you deal with it?

VV: Every business has a competitor and it is healthy to know that you have to be the best. We work harder and ensure that our quality and service are never compromised. Pricing is the other factor that we look into.

NB: What are your further expansion plans in India in the coming years?

VV: Now that Kenko has branded it self in Bangalore and our product is established, we are looking at setting our spas at all airports in India and want to have at least two outlets in each metro city in the next five years.

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