Encouraged by the initial response in states such as Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan, salons and grooming service providers are getting back to business armed with new safety protocols and products in place, hoping for a rush similar to that in Europe and elsewhere on opening up.
More states and Union territories, including Delhi, have allowed salons to restart shortly.
Customers can expect quicker haircuts and less in-store time overall with new services like zero-touch facials (using devices that can be disinfected) and contact-less payments. There will be a temporary halt on more ‘intimate’ services such as massages and nail bars, and no refreshments will be provided under the new guidelines and safety protocols. Manicures and pedicures might be scarcely available in some chains.
Chains such as Jean Claude Biguine, Geetanjali Salons and Studios and Enrich said salons are being extensively sanitised.
Also in place — industry-approved personal protective equipment (PPE), mandatory temperature checks, more single-use products, stringent safety manuals and a strict code of conduct for both employees and clients.
Online Training Sessions Held
Salons have also conducted extensive training of staff to ensure customers spend as little time as possible through the use of new techniques by stylists, they said.
L’Oréal India held online training sessions for about 50,000 hairdressers and beauticians during the lockdown besides formulating guidelines for its 45,000 salon partners, said DP Sharma, director in the professional products division. He expects a quicker recovery for the industry in India. L’Oréal had a 58% share in the salon segment before Covid-19 took hold, as per industry data.
“We think in the short term to medium term, the market will bounce back because beauty is a necessity today,” Sharma said. “As people start to head out and socialise, they will not be able to do without their regime. This has become an intrinsic part of everyone’s life.”
L’Oréal India developed safety guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) internally. It also used measures recommended by the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council, which is promoted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with financial support from the National Skill Development Corporation. The council recommends disposable paper towels, disposable N-95 triple-layered surgical face masks, disposable aprons and rubber gloves, disinfecting metallic tools and spraying 70% isopropyl alcohol on porous tools for manicurists and pedicurists.
‘Back to Pre-Covid Levels’
“Some of the salons after opening have already clocked about 70% of their pre-Covid revenues in the first few weeks,” Sharma said. “I am not saying this will be the industry norm, but some salon chains have come back to this level. It is similar to what happened in Europe. When markets opened, there was a frenzy of consumers trying to come back to salons because the confidence was very high. And that is exactly the kind of confidence we are trying to generate here.”
According to Vikram Bhatt, director at Enrich Salons, business is back to pre-Covid levels in Karnataka and Gujarat. Enrich has 80 salons across the country, including Maharashtra, where salons haven’t reopened yet.
“In Bengaluru, we saw a 20% drop in footfalls in the first 10 days,” Bhatt said. “But more services were sought, so the average bill value was higher. In Gujarat, there was a 30% drop in footfalls but the bill value was higher. Effectively, it was the same business as the same time last year. We are surprisingly delighted and our keeping our fingers crossed.”
Bhatt said he didn’t think people would come in for skincare but the chain’s ratio of services offered continues to be the same. “It is 55:45 —55% is our hair revenue and 45% is skin.”
Threading, Shaving Prohibited
Geetanjali Salons and Studios counts the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) as its biggest market and is planning to open its outlets in the capital from this weekend although services such as threading and shaving will be temporarily prohibited.
Samir Srivastav, CEO at Jean Claude Biguine India, said his chain has joined forces with its global brand partners L’Oréal, Wella as well as the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council to conduct extensive safety and hygiene training and educational exercises in multiple languages for its 400 employees.
“We have currently begun operations in Bengaluru and are pleased to have received a great response from our clients on re-opening,” he said.
Sumit Israni, managing director at Geetanjali Salons, said the chain has outsourced deep cleaning to an external agency, which will do this weekly.
“Aarogya Setu apps will be a must for both clients and customers besides mandatory temperature checks and health and travel declarations and protective gear. We are regularly sanitising all the tools and touch points at the salon and are ensuring we use single-use products for all things mostly,” he said.
“We opened in Gurgaon and Noida last week and our outlets in cities like Ludhiana, Jaipur, Lucknow and Kanpur have also opened. Cases are going up so we have to take extra care. Our clients are happy with the precautions we have taken so far.”
In states such as Maharashtra, where salons can’t reopen yet, chains are banking on social commerce to sell grooming products. “We have more than 19,000 salons in the country that are engaging in social commerce. We have tied up with 12 delivery partners through which our salon partners can sell their stock through warehouses in non-containment areas. We have also trained hairdressers and beauticians on e-consultation with consumers through video calls. We will also continue with that model,” said Sharma.