Bangaluru-based You Look Great (YLG) salon chain’s Founder and CEO, Rahul Bhalchandra started one of the most organised salons chains about 6 years back in January 2009 Under the R&R Salons Pvt Ltd banner.
One of the most sorted entrepreneur of Indian Wellness Industry, very few must be aware of the bright past of Rahul Bhalchandra, Founder & CEO of You Look Great (YLG) salon chain, successfully operating in down south and parts of western region.
Reportedly, Bhalchandra has earned good experience under Future Group, before foraying into a beauty business with his first venture in salon chain named ‘Star & Sitara’ and was instrumental in initiating a chain of gymnasiums in malls in a joint venture with Talwalkars. Before joining Future Group, this Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta graduate had also headed the retail business like Arrow, Lee, Wrangler and Excalibur.
WI Bureau talked to this sharp skilled businessman to understand the know-how of his current salon business moves.
Current market position and opportunities
This year (last fiscal) has been outstanding for us. We’ve seen the growth which we’ve never seen in the past. We see the momentum continuing. We are very bullish and would be expanding our presence this year, significantly.
No. of new salons opened in last quarter
In the last fiscal, we’ve opened only one new salon but the already functioning outlets have given us hugely incredible revenue. This hugely made a difference. I mean, the business has become really attractive and our existing salons have started churning out much more. So, we are looking at adding as many as we can this year (current fiscal).
Why only 1 salon in last fiscal?
I don’t think it was any challenge to open new salons in the last year. It was a conscious decision to consolidate our existing base before we started our new salons. We’ve seen growth around 40-50 per cent higher in last year in our existing stores. So that is what is very exciting. We have no constraints to open new salons. We have adequate capital, enough locations identified already. So, if we decide to open new stores, really we can, but we’ve consciously chosen not to.
Emerging challenges of the industry
Interestingly, when we ask our clients about- where do you want to spend your discretionary money? It is not just salons, which is our competition, but, things like; eating out, going to movie, going shopping for clothes and perfumes, all these are competition for us including luxury spas. The customer will typically allocate her discretionary spend between these different categories. So, how do you make the salon more attractivedestination for the customer to spend her discretionary income? Is what the challenge is. I think that’s the biggest challenge we face.
Why present in southern region only?
From the business matrix point of view, it makes much more business sense to be focused on fewer locations and that’s what we believe in and we continue to believe in that. So, I think we are not ready yet to touch northern or western markets.
Customers at diverse desire to taste new services
If I get an investor who can pump-in Rs 50 crore than I would come to the north (laughed).
No plans to franchise
There is a fundamental belief in our company that we would like to control our service delivery and the salons. So, all our salons are company owned and we do not do any franchise as-of-now. So that’s being our current thought process.
Take over PM’s effort to boost wellness industry
See, what is happening is, there is a lot more focus on skill development and I think the government is serious this time and are lot more practical about it. So, gradually, if you see the bottlenecks removed and enabling legislations or enabling systems or environment for allowing standardized education to come to this business, than you will see a lot more people coming in. So there are some phenomenal initiatives being taken by the Kerala Government, the Sikkim Government, even the Tamil Nadu Government has started full degree programme. It’s a three year degree programme which is the first UGC approved college offering degree courses. So there are a lot of things which are happening in different states but at the centre, if you have the government really pushing it and coordinating it. I think, it will provide an enabling environment to the industry to thrive over a certain period of time. I don’t think it will immediately result in any great business or anything but in span of 5-10 years’ horizon, it’s going to change the face of the business for sure.