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May, 16 2013


With the rising affluence of the Indian middle class and a growing consciousness among both women and men to look stylish and feel good, the Salon industry has shown exponential growth in the last 10 years, offering business opportunities to investors to

GONE are the days when shades of blue were specifically dedicated to men and bright pinks were for women. The days when going to the parlour was the exclusive domain of women and men used to take a quick cut or shave at a local barber shop or under a mango tree. It's the metrosexual man and unisex salons that have taken an edge over others in both the organised and unorganised sectors of the salon industry. The Indian salon industry, which was earlier women-centric, has switched to unisex salons and is coming up with male grooming offers. Leading players in the Indian salon industry are coming up with almost every concept, starting from unisex salons to gender-based ones and high-end salons. Big players like Jawed Habib, Lakme and VLCC are visibly present in North while others like Naturals and GreenTrends have made a mark in the South and are taking the franchise route for further expansion. The urban salon market in India is spending Rs 36 billion annually on salon services which is far lower than the world standards. Market gurus are expecting this number to grow to Rs 77 billion by 2015. This has attracted international chains like Jean-Claude Biguine, Tony & Guy and Saks to enter the market with these brands generating high revenue.

The size of the salon market in India was about Rs 82 billion in 2010, which had grown from Rs 39 billion in 2005 at a CAGR of 16 per cent per annum. The urban market had grown at a faster pace of 20 per cent per annum in the period 2005-2010 compared to the rural market which was growing at a CAGR of 13 per cent.

Thus, roughly the salon market is growing at 35-40 per cent every year and at this rate it has the potential to become a Rs 39-billion market by 2015. Going by the luminaries of this industry, there are about 1,70,000 salons across 800 cities of the nation. With the growing popularity of unisex salons, there are 5,000 modern unisex salons, about 50,000 ladies' beauty parlours and 1,50,000 barber shops. Broadly, the salon industry can be categorised as follows:

Unisex salons

This segment of the salon industry is popular and is slated to grow in the coming years. Renowned chains of salons like Jawed Habib, Naturals, Green- Trends, VLCC, Shahnaz Husain, Enrich, Looks and Strands have maximum franchisees in the unisex format. The Shahnaz Husain Group is the largest organisation. Currently, it operates in more than 100 countries all over the world, where it has franchise salons, spas, beauty institutes and direct product distributors. About the popularity of the unisex concept over the years, CKK Kumaravel, Owner of Naturals, says: “Ours is a leading salon brand in the Southern market and has achieved 100 per cent growth in five years.” He says the South Indian market was a very conservative market where introducing the concept of unisex salon was the initial hiccup and the brand overcame it gradually. Likewise, GreenTrends, which is another leading salon-chain, follows the concept of handholding its franchisees to make sure they make profits in the first three months.

Sandeep Ahuja, MD, VLCC Healthcare Ltd, says that the Group's target over the next 12-18 months will be to expand its geographic footprints in nine countries (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Malaysia) across Asia, where it currently has direct company-managed operations in, through its slimming, beauty & fitness centres, beauty & nutrition vocational education institutes and the VLCC Personal Care line of products.”

Unisex salons have taken a leap ahead owing to their hygiene, sophisticated services, branded products and ambience. However, one of the major challenges this industry faces relates to a dearth of quality manpower and skilled labour.


The concept of all-women salon is old but it still has many takers. Earlier, it used to be boldly written outside the parlour Ladies Only which is now replaced by all-women formats in the organised sector. Naturals W is an all-women salon format which was launched on Women's Day on March 8, 2012. Other salon chains in this segment are Spalon and Lakme. The brand has several all-women salons mushrooming in the unorganised sector. Naturals W plans to start 1,000 women salons, and this year, it aims at 50 salons in this format. Unisex salons being more popular than all-men and all-women salons, the gender-based salons attract lesser clientele. For example, on a weekend you will find a unisex salon generating good business, while a gender-based salon witnessing many empty chairs.

All-men format: There are many mini barber shops for men in every small and big city. But GreenTrends has started Hi-Fi, an all-men salon, which caters to the needs of the metrosexual man of today. Chakochen Mathai, General Manager, Business Development, Trends in Vogue, GreenTrends, says: “The typical barber shops were not very clean and failed to offer quick services. Among other factors they also had untrained staff.”

Of the 1,70,000 estimated salons, there are 1,15,000 barber shops in the organised sector. These barber shops are being taken over by the plush and polished salons which provide refined services and skilled labour.

High-end salons: These salons cater to the needs of celebrities and hi-end consumers and have an ambience that is keeping in view the likes of such consumers. In this format, several international salon brands like Jean-Claude Biguine, Tony & Guy and Saks, and Indian players like B-Blunt, Page 3 and Limelite have entered the market looking at the wide scope. Osh Babani, Founder, BBlunt, asserts: “We have specialised training for our franchisees and their staff as per the clientele we are targeting at.” While Page 3, a high-end salon format of Naturals, offers this format to only those who have tasted success with Naturals. As far as strategy is concerned, a Limelight salon wants to attract people from higher strata of the society like the CEO's, celebs and sportspersons. Industry experts believe the strategy of a high-end salon is to keep the exclusivity factor intact.

Kiosk format: The Jawed Habib salon-chain has two formats in this category: Hair Express and Hair Yoga. It's a quick-stop format where you can get a quick cut or a relaxing massage at high-end malls.

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