With a humble beginning in the year 1989 to becoming one of the major brands in the beauty and wellness sector, VLCC Group has indeed come a long way. The group has major interests in over 14 countries with a work force of more than 4,500 employees which continues to swell with every passing year.
You have traversed a long way can you throw some light on this illustrious journey, how difficult the journey was and what challenges you faced?
In 1989, when I launched my beauty and wellness company, VLCC, from a small basement at S a f d a r j u n g E n c l a v e i n N e w D e l h i , t h e circumstances were very different and it was difficult to persuade people and convince them of the future of this industry. There were also very few women entrepreneurs in the late-eighties and being one of them, trying to mark a place in such a fragmented and highly unorganized industry like beauty and wellness, was challenging. To say the least, for at that time we could not easily get bank loans or find good space on rent or good products or support from media, and nor was there a ready pool of well-trained and skilled manpower. The concept of preventive health care and wellness had yet to gain any traction. It was okay to be overweight. In fact, being overweight in some senses was seen as a sign of being prosperous! Also, weight – management options that did exist were few and far between. On one end of the spectrum there were the unorganized sector “mom ‘n’ pop” beauty parlours offering unscientific solutions and then there were these high-end 5-star hotel health clubs. I was sure I did not want VLCC to be yet another beauty parlour. Nor did I wanted to offer a 5-star expensive service. I wanted to transform how people live by providing them a scientific and complete wellness solution from head to toe. We also focused on providing proper nutrition counseling for the body. I worked out a business model around this and can justifiably say that VLCC was a pioneer in this field.
VLCC today has more than 4,500 employees spread across 330 locations in over 150 cities and 14 countries, with about 60% of the work force comprising women. Today the fact that I can contribute towards skill development and women empowerment through VLCC Institute and in my capacity as the chairperson of beauty and wellness sector skill conceal, makes the journey even more fulfilling.
You ventured into the field of beauty and healthcare decades back how have these sectors evolved over the years?
The beauty and healthcare industry was largely unorganized and fragmented when I started my journey. While there is still a long road ahead before it becomes fully organized, the beauty industry has witnessed a phenomenal change over the past few years. The definition of beauty and healthcare has evolved from merely a lack of disease and illness to a more holistic state of being, where one’s physical, mental and emotional health are in sync. Today, while there is an active market for products and services that reflect this philosophy, the overall beauty and healthcare industry is experiencing a boom from the current Rs 13,000 crore, generating thousands of job opportunities every year. This growth is majorly due to rising middle-class population, higher disposal incomes, changing lifestyles and social media influence. Also, since beauty and healthcare is not limited to any gender or age anymore, more cutting edge technology and latest innovations are driving the industry further. According to me , Ayurveda sector, pain management, preventive healthcare and body contouring techniques are some of the key growth drivers that will lead the industry in the coming years.
You are known for your community service initiatives, can you please tell us more about few CSR projects which are close to your heart?
VLCC’s CSR projects rests on two crucial pillars which supports and strengthens our corporate values and business model activities that respond to our fundamental obligation towards the society and value-creating activities that are synergetic with our business strategy.
- Women empowerment through skill development
Given the struggles and challenges I faced as a woman, I felt it was my responsibility to work towards empowering and transforming unskilled human resource, especially women, to a productive resource towards self – growth and societal development. This was one of the main reasons that led to the setting up of VLCC Institute of Beauty and Nutrition in 2001. With 84 institutes, VLCC Institute of Beauty and Nutrition is a pioneer in imparting quality skill training in this domain and a staunch supporter of the Government of India’s ‘Skill India’ mission, where we have trained 52,000+ students so far. Besides this, I am also serving as the Chairperson of the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC) which is government-backed council working tirelessly to ensure skill development of our young and deserving talent of the country.
- Anti-Obesity Drive: Empowering through good health
With the active involvement of the medical fraternity and other key stakeholders in all the countries where it has a presence, VLCC observes November 26th of very year as Anti-Obesity Day™ as part of the annual campaign conducted in November-December to promote the development of good lifestyle habits to stay healthy and fit. It was in 2001 that VLCC took the first step towards creating awareness about obesity and its ill-effects through the creation of an Anti-Obesity initiative to address the global pandemic. Today, the Anti-Obesity Day™ campaign has gained significant momentum over the years with the governments, media, NGOs and corporates of countries including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Malaysia participating actively to spread the message of good health.
VLCC’s annual Anti-Obesity campaign includes organizing health camps, mass counselling sessions and talk-shows with health experts besides extensive media interactions and dissemination of special literature on obesity.
You have bagged many awards and accolades but do you think every award brings more challenge to excel and out do your previous performance?
All the awards that have been bestowed upon me are validations of the progress that VLCC has made over the past few years. It has been a stupendous journey for VLCC and these awards only motivate us to continue working hard in order to surpass our expectations and achievements to date and also breach new frontiers. The fact that these awards also come during the most exciting and challenging times that the beauty and wellness industry has ever witnessed, makes us extremely confident that our growth will continue.
Can throw some light on your expansion plans both in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and UAE? How many centers do you currently have across all the Emirates?
We have robust expansion plans for GCC and UAE. Currently there are 23 centers across the GCC countries and over nine more centers which we plan to open in 2019. There are 12 centers in UAE and we plan to open four more in 2019. With 2 centers in Abu Dhabi, 1 in Ras Al Khaimah and 1 in JLT in Dubai we have present all over UAE.
The breakup of GCC centers are as follows: one center in Al Khodar, Doha, one in Sohar, Oman, one in Kuwait City. In addition to all these we will be opening first franchisee center in KSA this year.