Rising consumer awareness and spending capacity has provided the Indian spa and salon industry the right boost to expand in both tier-1 and tier-2 cities. Over the years, Spalon India Pvt. Ltd. with its brands like Bounce and Kanya has been growing steadily. Spalon’s Managing Director Vikram Mohan talks about the USP of its brands, the company’s expansion plans and the challenges and opportunities the Indian market presents.
TDB: Could you take us through the process of how you started Spalon India Pvt. Ltd. What was the inspiration behind entering the segment?
Vikram Mohan (VM): Our company was founded in 1983 by my mother Latha Chandra Mohan. At that point of time, she began with a 200 square-foot ladies-only beauty parlour. Her driving force was simple – her sheer passion for the beauty industry. The parlour called Kanya Beauty Salon, is still around today and continues to be one of the top brands in Chennai and Bangalore when it comes to the ladies-only salon segment. When I joined her in 2013, Spalon India was born. We added what are now well-known brands like Bounce which is our high fashion unisex salon chain, Oryza – our day spa and Bounce Academy for Hair and Makeup, to our brand portfolio as we slowly began to grow and expand our clientele. The inspiration for us at Spalon was to be the market leader when it came to offering great customer experiences. This was backed by providing our staff with intensive training in order to establish ourselves as a serious player in the hair, beauty and wellness space in India.
TDB: Today, Spalon India brands have a presence in major metropolitan cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Do you plan to further expand in these markets or are you looking at entering newer markets in the coming days?
VM: In the coming days, we will be opening more salons in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. In addition, we will be adding cities like Coimbatore to our growing national footprint, by the end of this financial year. Overall, in FY2018, our plan is to include an additional eight new salons to the group.
TDB: The salon market in India is choc-o-bloc with both Indian and international names. What makes Spalon India brands like Bounce stand out?
VM: The market has been growing steadily over the years. But, we are proud to continue to stand out in the crowd. We are proud to be a completely home-grown brand and are one of the few hairstylist-owned and operated brands in the country, with over 35 company-owned outlets. We do not franchise and are obsessive about quality control and customer satisfaction.
TDB: Taking about your current locations, cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai are known to attract a large number of both national and international tourists. They are also popular Indian destinations for expats. Do you see scope for international clientele in India when it comes to spa and salon services?
VM: Our brands have always been patronised by the expat community and they continue to remain a favourite with the community. A major reason for that has been the skill level of our staff. All our hair stylists are trained in the latest trends and techniques. In addition, all our senior-most talent is trained in the most prestigious academies from Europe and the Far East. Our spa therapists are trained by trainers from Indonesia and Thailand.
We also have the advantage of our world-class facilities and we use only the best available products for the services we offer. The quality of facilities and products goes a long way in attracting our non-residential clientele. It’s always a great pleasure for me when I see that so many of our expatriate clients, make it a point to get all their hair and beauty services at our salons before heading out of India on their annual vacations, back to their home countries. We hope to be able to continue to provide world-class services to both the domestic and international clients in the days ahead.
TDB: Wellness and Beauty have a growing demand, not only in India but also abroad. Do you plan to expand your brand presence beyond India?
VM: There has been a growing demand in not only India but also the world, in this segment. But currently, at Spalon India, we are focusing on only on our India expansion in the days ahead.
TDB: Could you tell us about the initial challenges you faced while starting the brand. How has your approach changed over time?
VM: There were numerous obstacles when we started off, some more challenging than the others. If I were to mention the main ones, I would say that when we started our first salon, at the point of time, we were one of the first, unisex brands in the country. At that point of time, my sister and I would end up working on the floor catering to our customer’s requirements. The sector was still new and growing so we had to train all our staff from scratch.
Things are different now. Today, thanks to the rapid evolution in the industry, finding talent isn’t that difficult. Even then we make sure to retrain everyone in order to provide our clients with quality services. Also, through our academies, we have trained over a thousand hair and makeup artists.
TDB: Earlier, competition was only from within the domestic market. With the entry of many well-established international brands in this segment what changes have you seen. How will this benefit the segment?
VM: The competition in the market is very healthy and helps keep us on our toes. While international brands have been entering for a while now, I think, we can say that we are doing pretty well for ourselves. I have always believed that your work should speak for itself. As long as we are clear about our fundamentals goals, which is to constantly evolve, keep our clients as our top priority, keep the service quality consistent, and ensure the brands in our portfolio are always in trend, we should be able to stay competitive despite the entry of new or established brands.
TDB: As Managing Director, what have been your biggest achievements? What are your plans for the years ahead?
VM: Without doubt, I would say that my dedicated and experienced team, along with our loyal and growing customer base have been the biggest achievements. Moving forward, we would like to continue our current growth trajectory – taking over the world, one head at a time!