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BW Businessworld

'TONI&GUY Sets The Benchmark For Other Salons'

Sonali Bhambri, director of TONI&GUY’s North India master franchisee, talks about the brand, its pipeline and its definitive focus on education, branding and products.

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Iconic British hairdressing chain, TONI&GUY, has been busy successfully cashing in on the ever-growing Rs 49,000-crore wellness market in India. BW|Businessworld caught up with Sonali Bhambri, director of TONI&GUY’s North India master franchisee to talk about the brand, its pipeline and its definitive focus on education, branding and products.

How has TONI&GUY’s Indian journey been so far?
We got in touch with TONI&GUY 4 years back and then we opened our first salon in Noida. Since then, the journey has been great, we have around 30 salons across North India out of which 8 are owned by the master franchise while the rest of the 22 have been franchised.

We have our main high-end TONI&GUY, as well as a diffusion brand for smaller markets called ‘essensuals'. This basically emulates your neighbourhood salon and offers the same TONI&GUY quality at a lower price point.

All of our outlets are doing very well and our turnover, depending on the market we are located in, is Rs 15 lakh to Rs 40 lakh per month per salon.

What is the biggest thing coming up for TONI&GUY in the country?
By the next financial year, we will be setting up a training academy in Delhi. This will provide students with training and education about hairdressing and chemicals (hair colour and treatments). We will also train people in beauty which actually makes up 30 per cent of our business.

This will be the first of its kind in the country and will be along the lines of the London training academy. In fact, we have already started training and all that is left to do is its formalisation. Trainers were here from the London academy for 6 months to teach our personnel how to train, what are the trends, etc.

What is the most challenging thing about tiding through the Indian waters?
Finding skilled personnel. This is one of the reasons India needs an academy like the one we are setting up. When we scout for staff, we have to train them not only in the technicalities but also in terms of communication.

There is a lot of competition in the wellness market. How do you differentiate yourself?
The biggest differentiator for TONI&GUY is our concentration on the international quality we have come to be recognised for. We set the benchmark for other salons. Anyone can set up a beautiful salon but it is the personnel that make the difference. This is why we consider training to be our foundation. We have 18 training academies across the globe.

Anyone who we hire has to go through extensive training. For example, we have a tough Vardering programme that has to be passed by our employees. And the cycle of training never ends. Trends in this industry move and change very fast and it is important that everyone engaged in our salons stays abreast of them.

What about similarly positioned salons?
We have the best talent and we are the only ones training them, so the people who don’t make the cut are hired by our competition, who at best is trying to recreate the industry standard TONI&GUY sets.

For us, it is not about being the biggest but being the best. We could have easily had a 100 salons by now, but our concentration is on creating sustained quality in-sync with TONI&GUY’s legacy and that takes time.

More importantly, we have three different pricing packages linked to the stylist’s experience. So a customer can choose what suits their pocket best and get our services for the same prices available elsewhere. This is what best helps us counter the competition.

How do you ensure that the franchisees maintain uniformity?
First, we never do any advertising to draw parties interested in franchising. So whoever does approach us is committed and passionate about it. We only have one condition, that they should not be from the industry.

We have a module called ‘The Perfect Salon’ and owners are coached about our requirements and how to run the place. Additionally, the responsibility of hiring and firing is completely held by the master franchisee.