HUL to push Lakme salons, new products

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 18, 2011 19:41 hrs

Two years after shifting its beauty and wellness business to subsidiary Lakme Lever Ltd, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) plans to expand the number of outlets and introduce new products from its global stable, said Nitin Paranjpe, managing director.

HUL’s beauty & wellness business includes 125 Lakme salons and about 20 Ayush therapy centres. The focus, said Paranjpe, would be on Lakme salons as HUL looks to cash in on the growing trend of professional beauty services in India.

"We have very aggressive plans for our Lakme salons. We are going to open one salon every week in 2011," he said. "Some will be company-owned, some franchisee-led. Plus, we have already begun introducing some of the products from our global acquisition, TIGI (made in 2009), into salons here. TIGI has a fabulous salon range of professional products for hair. That rollout has begun."

The overall beauty services market in India, according Purnendu Kumar, associate vice-president, Technopak, is about Rs 3,500 crore annually and growing at a compounded annual rate of 15 per cent. The organised segment, which makes up about Rs 1,000 crore, is growing faster, at close to 25 per cent per annum.

Kumar attributes the trend to higher disposable incomes and the need for a professional approach to beauty. "Consumers on Friday are looking for the best, especially when it comes to health and beauty. Which is why the organised sector is booming," he says.

This point is corroborated by Sandeep Ahuja, managing director, VLCC Healthcare. He says, "The market is maturing. Even as players step up their activities in the segment, consumers are demanding more."

VLCC, whose founder is Vandana Luthra, who became popular in the 1990s for her slimming centres, has 160 outlets on Friday in over 90 cities. Apart from slimming, VLCC outlets also offer beauty services, targeting skin and hair. Ahuja says. "We will continue to add about 25-30 outlets, year on year. There is enough scope for growth."

The story is no different for rival Marico, also ramping up, introducing new products and services at its Kaya skin clinics. The company began the rollout of Derma Rx products in the third quarter of the current financial year. Marico acquired the Singapore-based company in the first quarter of the current financial year. The acquisition, according to company executives, has helped Marico add four clinics to Kaya’s existing tally of 98.

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