Beauty care companies are joining hands to set up a wellness retailers association, said Rajiv Nair, CEO of skin clinic chain Kaya Ltd during a panel discussion at the Retail Leadership Summit 2021 organised by Retailers Association of India.
“We are almost at the final stage of setting up a wellness retailers association. The pandemic actually helped us understand that collaboration is key. We collaborated than be competitors,” said Nair. Kaya stayed connected with rivals such as beauty giant Lakme Lever and others in the industry during the pandemic as their challenges were similar.
Last July, leading salons such as Lakme, BBlunt and skin clinics such as Kaya underwent a seismic shift in day-to-day operations to inculcate safety measures to woo back the fear-enveloped customer amid the coronavirus outbreak. The five-billion-dollar salon industry had been under lockdown for eight weeks.
“Our business operates on human touch and 40% of our cost is people or people-related. When we were told that touch is bad, people have to keep distance and our revenues were down to zero, it shook the fundamentals of our business,” said Pushkaraj Shenai, CEO of Lakme Lever at the summit. Lakme runs 480 salons in 160 towns.
“We did 600,000 hours of training for our staff March 21 onwards. We over-engineered safety in the customer journey. We completely moved to single use products, disposable tool kits and launched zero touch facials and pedicures,” added Shenai.
Salons and beauty clinics banned walk-ins without appointment, entry of companions, valet service and removed magazine and newspaper sections since the outbreak. They shifted to digital menus, contactless billing, disposable linen and single-use kits of products.
The industry estimates the number of salons in India at 65 lakhs, of which only 30% are registered. According to Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC) that functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and counts Lakme, Enrich, VLCC, YLG and Naturals among its members, the salon industry employs about a crore professionals, two-thirds of which are women.