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Planning 07 May 2015

We intend to set up 100 stores over a period of 10 years: Istayak Ansari, Lloyds Luxuries

London-based Truefitt & Hill is one of the oldest barber shops in the world, which entered in Indian market last year. At present, the brand owns three barber shops and one retail outlet in Mumbai.

London-based Truefitt & Hill is one of the oldest barber shops in the world, and the lone contender to holding a Royal Warrant to H.R.H, The Duke of Edinburgh. While Lloyds Luxuries Ltd owns the master franchisee for Truefitt & Hill in India, and the company has ventured into the dynamically changing luxury world by launching this fine barber shop, under the in-house brand name Truefitt & Hill.

The firm has opened three luxurious barber shops at Colaba, Khar and Palladium locations in Mumbai, in a span of one year. Not only this, the brand also owns a retail outlet at T2 airport in the city, offering men's grooming products like shaving creams, soaps, colognes, shaving accessories, etc, along with retailing a few other international luxury brands like Deakin and Francis and Barker which specializes in men’s accessories like cuff links etc.

In an exclusive encounter with Wellness India, Istayak Ansari, Director, Lloyds Luxuries Limited, unveiled his plans to set up 100 stores in span of next 10 years and much more.

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To start with, how well was the first inning of Truefitt & Hills in India?
The first year went as per our expectation in terms of opening of new stores and targeted revenue per store. We have three full service stores at Khar, Colaba and Palladium Mall in Mumbai and a retail outlet at T2 international airport in Mumbai.
We will open stores in Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad in addition to Mumbai this financial year.

How well is the Indian eCommerce front behaving for T&H? And which e-commerce platforms have given you a wide range of business?
E-commerce in India is primarily driven by discounts. We as a brand don't discount our products. T&H has a huge range of men's grooming products with over 133+ SKU’s.
  We have one of the largest ranges of men's grooming products in India. The response from online sales is encouraging but not as per our expectation. We will take considerable amount of time, effort and monies to develop online sales in India. The products sales will eventually also go up once we have iron and operating stores across all major cities in India.
Indian market often acts as a catalyst for foreign franchisers, what was the major attraction of rooting T&H in India?
We are the first luxury barbershop to start operations in India and the success of T&H will eventually lead to other brands in the same space to enter Indian market.

Despite being the only one of its kind, do you still feel a sense of competition from chain salons like Jawed Habib Hair or Christiaan Georgio etc?
We are catering to a very niche and high-end clientele who is well travelled and is willing to pay for luxury services. Since we are the only operator in the luxury service space, we currently are attracting clients from other high-end stand alone salons and hotels salons.
In future we will see new operators in the same space where we will have to face competition. Our current focus is to create, develop and grow the segment.

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Can you put some light on the partnership with Lloyds Luxuries Ltd. and what are your future plans for this venture?
We intend to set up 100 stores over a period of 10 years which will be a mix of full service stores and pure retail stores.
We will own and operate 75 per cent of the stores and the balance will be franchised. Our corporate owned stores will be set up in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad. We are targeting metro cities keeping in mind a cluster approach for new stores.

Being a provider to elite class, are you planning on offering services to Tier 2 customers/ cities?
We will open stores in Tier 2 cities also. The stores in Tier 2 cities will be opened through the franchising route.

What is the future of chain salon stores in India?
There is a huge transformation in the salon industry in the last 10 years. There are over two dozen salon chains in India with either PAN India presence or a regional presence. There are over a dozen international brands which have opened shop in India over the last 10 years. The industry will grow at a rate of over 30-40 per cent over the next five years.
The growth will be contributed by two major factors. Increase in disposable income and growing awareness. I love the business because it is scalable and the services offered by salon operators are a necessity. A client can spend anywhere between Rs. 100 to Rs. 5000 a month based on his or her spending power.

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Since day one till today, what are behavioural changes that you have observed in the customers towards T&H, if any?
Royal Shave is our signature service. Majority of our clients who were use to shaving at home visit us at least once a month for a royal shave after they have experienced our signature service.

According to you, how severe are Indian men in terms of giving preference/ time for such luxury products/ treatments?
In week days we see more traffic in the evening and on weekends we are fully booked. We have been considering extending the closing time considering the request made by our regular clients who visit our store post office ours.

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