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Nov, 01 2006

LAKMÉ BEAUTY SALON PROFITING FROM BEAUTY

Everyone has at one time or the other heard someone say, \'I\'ve seen this film star in person, and she\'s not even a patch on what she looks on screen.” Pick up any entertainment or fashion magazine today and you will see gorgeous faces flashing a brilli

Everyone has at one time or the other heard someone say, 'I've seen this film star in person, and she's not even a patch on what she looks on screen." Pick up any entertainment or fashion magazine today and you will see gorgeous faces flashing a brilliant smile back at you. What you may not realise is that most of these faces were once not so hot looking. Their transformation is the result of the beauty treatment they undergo -- the styling of their hair, skin treatment, face makeup and so on. This task of making a plain Jane look so attractive is the effort of beauty-care experts. As most of the successful beauticians claim, a successful beauty salon is one that goes by inspiration backed by hard work. The beauty business in India is not something that has made its mark just a few years back. Indian women have always made it a point to take care of the way they look. And beauty salons have only offered unrelenting support to make that wish come true.

As a result, the beauty business is a very lucrative segment today and a serious one too. The salon business is estimated at approximately Rs 1,550 core and is growing at an extremely fast pace. The highest growth has been witnessed in the branded segment at a growth rate of 31 per cent. This revolution is expected to continue in the coming years

Not only has the consumer become more conscious and demanding, the market has also paid attention to the ever-increasing awareness. One of the companies that is turning the Indian woman's fantasy into reality is Lakmé. A leader in the beauty-care and cosmetics segment in India, Lakmé has enhanced the brand's services further to cater to the new-age customer. And Lakmé Beauty Salons (LBSs) can truly be called the extension of Lakmé's strong commitment towards its customers. Since their inception, Lakmé Beauty Salons have continued to provide customers with a high level of customised and comprehensive beauty solutions ranging from makeup to personal grooming and hair-styling.

Where beauty and profits go hand in hand

By taking the franchise route, Lakmé has established its salons throughout the nation. Lakmé's franchise model consists of five company-owned salons which are Lakmé's' centres of excellence and training. These centres, which are the ultimate destination in beauty-care, also serve as fine examples to their franchise partners. The rest of the franchises spread across cities far and wide function as business partners who have imbibed and offer the expertise of the company-owned outlets.

For the investor, the Lakmé Beauty Salon provides the brand saliency that customers associate with the Lakmé brand. It promises a high rate of return on investment to the franchisee. Elaborating the business prospects for LBS franchisees, Reena Chhabra, Business Manager, LBS, says, "Customers relate to popular brands. So the business prospects for LBS franchisees are extremely promising, given the fact that LBS has the backing and recognition of Lakmé. Needless to add, this makes LBS a credible and high-value opportunity for the investor."

With an investment of 25 lakh, Lakmé offers its franchisees 30 per cent rate of returns. The space requirement for opening an LBS is of 800-1000 square feet. With such an investment and high rate of return, LBS is a win-win situation for all the franchisees. Taking advantage of such an opportunity, Kala Gautam, LBS franchisee from Bangalore opines, "I was interested in having my own business that involved low risks. I was highly inspired with the world-class services, as well as the state-of-the-art equipment, at the Lakmé Beauty Salon franchise owned by my sister-in-law. So I took up a franchise of Lakmé."

Talking about the relationship with its business partners, Anil Chopra, VP, LBS, says, "Our relationship with our franchisee is mutually dependent. The aim is to focus on creating a superior differentiator through enhanced service and quality.

Franchising can be successful only if the principal business model is replicated exactly in the form of franchisees. For this, a quality-conscious company like LBS ensures that training is delivered to its franchisees through precise, innovative and cutting-edge processes. Lakmé Beauty Salon organises stringent training programmes all year round for all its salons. Elaborates Chopra, "We focus a great deal on training as we believe that only superior training gives a franchisee an extra edge not only in terms of quality but also over the competition. We also follow a system of stringent certification post-training as well as regular audits for quality control." Jatinder Singh, LBS franchisee from Amritsar opines, "Lakmé has been supportive, right from the initial setting-up period, which involved choosing the right location, setting up the place and providing training and guidance to the staff on the latest trends in the beauty industry."

Lakmé concentrates on training the salon executives and beauty advisors so that the LBS customer enjoys an experience of excellent service and care, delivered consistently each time.

Adding another feather to its cap, Lakmé recently opened its Training Academy in Mumbai where it offers several courses to train beauty professionals. The courses range from short-term to long-term ones aimed at beauty professionals who would like to refresh their skills or acquire advanced training to enhance their skills.

Enthralling the Customer

Lakmé Beauty Salon's endeavour is not restricted to just offering beauty-care services. Going beyond, it provides an exquisite experience to the customer. What makes the new-age customer choose and keep coming back to LBS is the 360-degree holistic experience it offers. Lakmé Beauty Salon leaves no stone unturned in this regard. Explains Chhabra, "Today, with an increase in awareness and consciousness about beauty, it is not just good enough to satisfy the consumer but also delight her with the product and service experience. The challenge is to offer an unparalleled experience each time she interacts with the brand."

Besides offering world-class services and using state-of-the-art equipment, LBS is also true to the personality of its brand, Lakmé warm and friendly. Chhabra says, "The ambience helps us build long-lasting relationships with our clients."

Explains LBS franchisee Karan Sehgal, from Gurgaon, "Today, the customer's satisfaction is not enough, she has to be delighted with the product and service experience. The challenge is to offer an unparalleled experience each time the customers interact with the brand. Lakmé helps to better our service quality by constantly evaluating the staff."

For any woman, the quality of the products being used for the treatment is what can make or break her faith in a salon. With LBS she can expect the best standards.

Lakmé continuously innovates to offer a wide range of high performance and high quality skin-care products, colour cosmetics and beauty services. No two women are the same and neither are their beauty regimes. No other brand understands this better than LBS, where the experts customize the services according to each customer's individual needs.

Improvisation is the keyword for LBS. It could be a product for a new season or a new concept, LBS keeps on changing its themes, and is flexible enough to bring in technologies for improved quality.

With LBS, you also remain at the forefront of fashion trends. When Lakmé fashion statements are showcased at the Lakmé Fashion Week, these fashion statements are then adopted by LBS and offered to its clients.

The LBS revolution spreads across the country

Though the LBS services are restricted to women only, there is no dearth of men who are excited to take up an LBS franchise as much as women are. Explains Chopra, "Both men and women can understand beauty and both are capable of handling service and business operations. Lakmé Beauty Salon has highly motivated franchisees from both sexes.

The kind of experience Lakmé carries with itself makes it more than a reliable brand. With thirty years of experience, the brand now has a national presence with 91 franchisee salons in 38 cities. Keen to take further strides, the brand is focusing on building stronger and better partners with master franchisees and is giving them all the support required to expand the business in their territories.

What the future holds

Talking about the future plans of the company, Chopra says, "We are currently focusing on consolidating and offering more customized services to the consumer in already existing markets. " The Lakmé Beauty Salon is also planning to expand aggressively by the end of this year. Lakmé's immediate focus on consolidation lies in cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Baroda, Goa, Kolkata, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Jodhpur, Agra, Faridabad, and Pune.

Lakmé Beauty Salon is inviting requests from prospective franchisees. One can log on to the website www.lakmeindia.com for details. For more details contact alpesh.ashar@unilver.com

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