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Aug, 10 2013

Makeover for enriching beauty, wellness

As a homemaker and a working professional, it's a daunting task to manage the daily chores. Moving from corporate culture to starting one's own business turns out to be a blessing in disguise for mompreneurs.

What is that distinguishing factor that makes Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies, Naturals, IOSIS, Leena Mogre and VLCC so different from other brands operating in India\'s beauty and wellness sector? The factor that makes them exceptional than other brands is that they are successfully running under the leadership of womenpreneurs.  Shahnaz Husain herself sowed the seeds of Shahnaz Husain chain of beauty salons.  Entrepreneur Kiran Bawa and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra started IOSIS,the  beauty and wellness chain, and Chennai\'s most popular beauty salon chain, Naturals, was started by Veena Kumaravel with the help of her husband. Today, they have become role models for aspiring women franchisees who are ready to make a mark in the business of franchising.

The beauty and wellness industry is the fastest growing industry and regarded as the best-fitted sector for women franchisees as it is completely recession free business. The industry has now become more advanced than before. Currently, the beauty and wellness business is further categorised into broader segments such as salons  men, women and unisex. Spa chains are burgeoning  across India considering peoples\' shifting preferences in terms of spending money on new hairdos, makeovers or refreshing spa therapies in a comfortable and tranquil ambience.

By making the most of franchising, Shahnaz Husain, Naturals, Lakme, Leena\'s Mogre’s Fitness, Contours International, Jawed Habibs, b:blunt - India\'s premiere \'destination hairdressing salon\', Shear Genius, a chain of Unisex Salons, IOSIS Medi Spa, The Four Fountains Spa, Aura Thai spa, Green Trends Hair & Style Salon and Birla Kerala Vaidyashala have built their robust brand network across the length and breadth of the country. Brands like Cleopatra are now looking to expand via franchising and are seeking franchisees too. Besides, high-end chain Jean Claude Bigune (JCB) is also seeking expansion. Another French hair-salon chain Dessange International is planning to open 20-25 luxury and mid-segment salons in India over the next four years, as per news reports.

The factors that catapult the demand of salons and spa chains across the country are mainly the campaigns or promotions created by brand strategists to tap population of all age groups, growing population and literacy levels, brands\' tie-ups with online shopping portals wherein they offer deals to customers at slashed price points.

Going by the market statistics, it is confirmed by the Indian Salon Report 2013 that the ‘Indian salon industry stands at a staggering $2 billion mark and is expected to touch $3.5 billion by 2015.’ As per the report, India comprises 25 per cent of organised salon market, which will increase its share to 30 per cent by 2015. According to the report, 61 per cent of males and 54 per cent of females are visiting salon on a monthly basis and spending more than 60 per cent of the respondents spending between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000 on beauty services.

Besides, the beauty and wellness sector has also revved up maximum revenues with the help of online shopping sites that further provide best discounts for a mixed bag of services to consumers.

What’s in store for mompreneurs?

The potential of the beauty and wellness sector is undoubtedly much more than any other sector. Womenpreneurs are doing exceptionally well in this industry as looking good has now become a necessity and to follow the current trend no one really hesitates from splurging on it. In the beauty and wellness sector, most of the brands\' are run by womenpreneurs. Talking about tapping women franchisees, Anurag Kedia, Director, The Four Fountains De-stress Spa, says: “Four Fountains De-Stess Spa franchisees run by women franchisees have been extremely successful. In fact, most of our women franchisees have gone ahead to sign for a second outlet given the success they have seen in the first outlet.”

Currently, 60 per cent of franchisees of Green Trends are women entrepreneurs. Talking about the support, they offer to their franchisees, R GopalaKrishnan , Business Head, Green Trends, says: “We as a company provide maximum support to our franchisee. We have developed a sophisticated support system over the years. There are also specialised people and experts who are well trained and equipped to support our franchisees at any point of their business. To optimise the productivity we have segregated the operation into various departments to support the franchisee.”

On offering business opportunity to women, Anurag Gupta, MD , Shear Genius Academy & Services Pvt, says: “Shear Genius gives women entrepreneurs the best of both worlds  the ability to own their franchise location and ongoing access to support in marketing, advertising, recruiting, retention, training, management and business planning. In addition, they have the power of a national brand working for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to bring them more business.” With regard to training, the brand provides in-house training related to hairdressing, beauty skills and customer service and salon operations.

Is franchising the best pick?

Experts feel that franchising is a great route for market penetration. If we talk of Four Fountains Spa, the brand is currently operating 22 outlets, of which 15 are franchise outlets. Moving ahead with robust expansion plan, Anurag Kedia, informs: “Our overall plan is to launch 300 spas by 2016 across the top 50 towns in the country. 90 per cent of these outlets will be franchisee owned and only 10 per cent will be company-owned. We expect to be present in all the metros and semi metros by the end of 2013 and plan to have more than a 100 outlets by 2014.” Currently, B:blunt has 17 stores. Almost 65 per cent of its outlets are run by women franchisees. Commenting on the trend they witnessed so far in the beauty and wellness sector, Osh Bhabani, Director, b:blunt, says: “There is a tremendous change in the beauty and wellness sector. People have become more quality conscious and they give importance to ambience rather than focussing on the budget factor. We are one of the premium brands, both in salon and education business. b:blunt salons have come up to give the clients an experience of their lifetime each time they visit us.” On the other side, Shahnaz Husain has over 400 franchise ventures in India and abroad.

Shahnaz Husain, Chairperson & Managing Director, Shahnaz Husain & Group of Companies, says: “The future plans of the Shahnaz Husain Group include concentrated international branding, strengthening and widening the global chain of franchise ventures and appointing distributors in unrepresented new markets. By 2015, it plans to extend its presence in major countries like USA, Canada, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Belarus and Latvia.” Shear Genius Unisex Salon currently has five company owned and seven franchise outlets. Anurag Gupta of Shear Genius Academy & Services Pvt Ltd, informs: “We are all set to open four company owned and six franchise salons by the end of this financial year.” With 125 outlets in their portfolio, Green Trends is now planning to open 200+ outlets by the end of the fiscal year.

Effective training to  combat challenges

Road that leads to success is not always hurdle-free. Womenpreneurs mainly face challenges in business when it comes to managing family and business altogether.  Besides , financing the business, ability to scale up quickly, getting the right talent and maintaining the brand\'s quality standards are some other hurdles . Commenting on how one can overcome challenges, Shahnaz Husain, says: “As in all businesses and,  the entrepreneur needs the capital to invest. In the beauty business, one needs training in beauty techniques. One needs to keep learning in order to know the market and keep pace with the changing trends. The entrepreneur must learn about marketing and sales and learn the new marketing methods like social networking, for instance.” By making it easy for women franchisees, b:blunt\'s Director, Osh Bhabani, focuses on offering constant support. He says: “We give our entire support to all our partners from the fit out struggle to building rapport with the vendors. We also give our support in finding quality staff for them. India is on a rise and so is the woman in India. Most of our franchise outlets are owned and managed by women entrepreneurs and they are doing extremely well, both in terms of business and family.”

Selecting a right franchisee who has the ability to take the business to new heights is the quality that every franchisor takes into his consideration. Anurag Kedia expects to tap franchisees who have a professional background and have preferably worked in the corporate sector for years. This provides them a good background to quickly learn the processes and appreciate the importance of following them. Says Osh: “Before collaborating we do see for their experience in the hair and beauty industry. Also, we have an idea about their business acumen.”

On the other hand, Shahnaz Husain sums it up by giving thumbs up to the feasibility for women franchisees to join the beauty and wellness industry. She feels: “Yes, the beauty sector is offering business opportunities to women across India. The buzz has now shifted to smaller cities and towns. Our brand moved to the smaller cities and even towns through the length and breadth of India due to brand identity.” Talking about the industry\'s growth five years down the line, Chackochen Mathai,  GM, Business Development, Green Trends, believes: “Wellness today is not just a \'metro\' phenomenon. Young consumers across tier II and III cities and towns, and even pockets of rural India are actively seeking wellness solutions. There is a huge growth potential in the Indian wellness industry. There is also a huge and burgeoning middle-class in the country with rising disposable incomes that will fuel the demand for wellness and beauty products and services in the years ahead.”

As everyone craves to be well groomed, styled and pampered as per the changing fashion trends, the beauty and wellness is now slated to set new benchmarks in future. Beyond metros, now the demand for salons and spas is undeniably on the rise even in tier II and III cities.

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