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Beauty parlours to undergo seismic shift in the new normal, Retail News, ET Retail

Covid-19 Impact: Beauty parlours to undergo seismic shift in the new normalBengaluru | New Delhi: An impromptu visit to a beauty parlour for pedicure, waxing or eyebrow styling service or hair cut for a toddler could be a bygone tale post the lockdown.

Leading salons such as Lakme, BBlunt, Enrich and Bodycraft are planning a seismic shift in day-to-day operations to inculcate safety measures, as they seek to woo back the fear-enveloped customer amid the coronavirus outbreak. The five-billion-dollar salon industry, which has been under lockdown for eight weeks, anticipates sales to recover only by the fourth quarter of the fiscal.

“Post Covid-19, salons will be expected to maintain a high level of hygiene as it is a high-touch industry,” said Sunil Kataria, the chief executive of Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) which has a 30% stake in salon chain BBlunt. GCPL has advised its partner salons to use one-time-use personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times and disinfect high-touchpoint zones every three hours.

Top salon chains will ban entry of customer companions, children below 12 years of age and on-premise consumption of food and beverages, said the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC) that functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. It counts Lakme, Enrich, VLCC, YLG and Naturals among its members.

“Salons are also collaborating with beauty companies such as Loreal, Wella, Dermalogica and Beauty Essentials to develop monodose kits, such as one-time-use mascara, to eliminate sharing of products,” B&WSSC CEO Monica Bahl said.

The industry estimates the number of salons in India at 65 lakhs, of which only 30% are registered. Like liquor retailers, salons may see serpentine queues once they reopen. Nonetheless, most organised players expressed no ambition to pursue at-home service model offered by the likes of Urban Clap.

“We will continue to focus on delivering services in the controlled salon environment as safety and hygiene is difficult to replicate in home services,” said a Lakme Salon spokesperson.

The new safety protocol will, however, increase their operating cost, resulting in a price hike and straining the customer wallet amid salary cuts and layoffs.

“Our average cost per customer in consumables alone will grow 3X since pre-Covid times, thereby increasing the tariff by 8-10%,” Enrich founder Vikram Bhatt said. The salon chain posted Rs 50 lakh in revenue in April by home delivering skin-care products, compared with Rs 20 crore a year earlier.

“We anticipate that about 30% of our customers may not return for another six months due to fear,” said Sahil Gupta, the CEO of Bodycraft Salon chain in Bengaluru and Mumbai, adding: “We thus plan to introduce in-house transport for customers without private vehicles and prior online consultations for specific services to stay relevant.”

According to B&WSSC, the beauty industry was growing at 18.6% in pre-Covid times, higher than the international CAGR of 15%. The industry had recently made a representation to the Ministry of Home Affairs to permit reopening of salons stating that the jobs of nearly a crore professionals, two-thirds of which are women, were at stake.

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