Please take us through the brand story of Truefitt & Hill in India. What differentiates the brand from others in the same space?
Truefitt & Hill is perhaps the world’s oldest barbershop in the business, successfully running over 217 years. This has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000. For over two centuries, Truefitt & Hill has been known to be the finest traditional gentlemen’s barber and perfumer in London.
A lesser-known interesting fact is that our products were found on the Titanic, and today they form a special part of the Titanic exhibition. We are the Royal warrant holders by appointment of the Duke of Edinburgh. Established in 2013, Lloyds Luxuries Ltd is the master franchisee and holds exclusive distribution/franchise rights in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Vietnam, Myanmar and Bangladesh for Truefitt & Hill.
What is your take on conversations around grooming for men in the current industry landscape? What are the challenges you face and opportunities that you see for its evolution in future?
The men’s grooming market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 11% with market size of more than Rs 31,000 crore. Earlier, men were simply a by-product of the salon industry. Now, from an eight-year-old to an 85-year-old, all walk in with their specific grooming needs. They have emerged as big spenders in the grooming segment, and brands are noticing this too. Men want to put their best foot forward in the world of networking and virtual meetings; they have strongly realized the importance of being well-groomed and well-presented. This is for us a great opportunity to offer the best grooming experience.
Today, the market sees a combination of increasing buying power and growing self-care and grooming requirement. With increasing population of influencers and social media trendsetters, surge in disposable income too has triggered the demand. The challenge is to constantly remain updated and convince this generation that our services are at par and distinguished.
Give us an idea of the size of your business and current scale of operations. Both for products and signature services, in which parts of the country do you see demand growing?
Since we operate in the premium luxury segment, our operations cater to the top-end consumers of the pyramid. We started our first store in 2014 at Khar in Mumbai and within a span of nine years, we have 29 stores in 14 cities.
In India, the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) contribute more than 50% of revenue from beauty and grooming services. All other cities like Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad contribute around 8% each. These cities remain by far the largest market for us. Currently, we do not have many stores in the NCR region and that remains the focus for the next two years. As the market grows, we may look at opening stores in Tier 1 cities as well.
For products, we see a large opportunity, as from a small town to a mega city, Indian consumers have become aspirational and want to consume the best of products. We see our future demand coming from all parts of the country.
How have Truefitt & Hill’s signature barber services fared so far? What is unique about the experience that you offer to patrons?
Customers simply love our Royal Signature Services, because they know it is sheer indulgence for them. There is a huge demand for these services because men too like to be pampered. The fact that we have grown from one store to 29 stores in nine years clearly proves that our brand has been very well-received in the Indian market.
Among our four grooming services, the Royal Shave is our signature service. It is a 45-minute wet shave that includes use of hot and cold towels, face scrub and massage, pre-shave oil and shaving as per the skin type. Our Royal Haircut comes with a 15-minute head massage along with hair wash and conditioning. The Royal Pedicure and Royal Manicure include massage, scrub and pedicure/manicure. Words can’t describe how relaxing these services are; one has to experience them.
What are the pillars of your marketing strategy for Truefitt & Hill India, including tie-ups and brand associations?
Being a niche luxury brand, we believe in delighting our patrons with our offerings and experiences. What works for us is strong word-of-mouth by our patrons. The pillars of our marketing strategy are Experience, Engagement and Advocacy.
We have been promoting our brand on all digital and social media. We also believe that like-minded brands can help each other; so we keep collaborating regularly with luxury brands from various sectors like automobiles, hospitality, banking and finance, aviation etc. Additionally, we have partnered with gentlemen’s sports like horse racing, polo and golf, which has helped us in reaching out to the right TG.
Going forward, what will be your main focus areas as you spearhead India operations for Truefitt and Hill? How do you plan expansion and growth for the brand?
Today, service contributes 80% of the business and the rest comes from products. In the coming years, I see products growing faster than services. If you look at male grooming services, you will find that for centuries, there has been no innovation versus so many new services being introduced for women. Innovation holds the key here, and as a market leader, it is our duty to bring in more new services for men.
We plan to open 50 stores in India by 2025, and we are aggressively working towards the expansion. There will be expansion outside India as well, as we plan to launch another store in Dhaka and one store each in Vietnam, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
On the product side, there is a rising demand, especially from customers who live in smaller cities. They also want to use better products than they do currently. There is an affluent population in these markets. Accessibility is a challenge, and though they have spending power, they have no place to spend. So, I see products becoming a far better business, and we will aim at scaling up our operations.
Tell us an anecdote/story around personal grooming from your own life or customer experience at Truefitt & Hill. What have been your big learnings?
Prannay Dokkania, MD & COO, Lloyds Luxuries Ltd |
I will give you two anecdotes. Interestingly, when I met customers in the past, they categorically expressed their happiness about the warmth and calm environment of our stores. They said that they feel truly relaxed at Truefitt & Hill and if their wives don’t find them at home, they immediately know where to look for them! Another anecdote is about our manicure and pedicure services. A couple of our customers were happy and told me that it is a very good thing the brand offers. They said they would feel shy at unisex salons, as they had to fold up their shirts and trousers, even as they were surrounded by women customers. But at Truefitt & Hill, they are able to get all services peacefully. The learning here is that men also need all grooming services like women; hence we will keep innovating and adding more and more services to the list.
Finally, give us a sense of your personality – the person, beyond the realm of work. What is your life mantra?
I am always well groomed. I strongly believe grooming is an essential part of one’s life and helps create discipline. If you are groomed properly, it means that is how you are managing your personal and professional life. Outside my professional life, I love to spend time with my family. I love to read management books and implement the learnings in my day-to-day life, though nowadays I don’t get much time to read. I invest in equities and consider this asset class as a wealth creator in the long run. I play cricket and am a foodie by nature, with a sweet tooth.
The signature services
Truefitt & Hill’s USP is its ‘Royal Signature Services’ consisting of Royal Shave, Royal Haircut, Royal Pedicure and Royal Manicure. Every Truefitt & Hill location in the world offers the same experience, as there is a defined SOP followed globally to maintain quality of services. They have private rooms called The Royal Suite, which allow patrons to relax while getting their services in a calm, peaceful ambience, with absolute privacy. Also on offer are annual memberships to patrons, who can avail unlimited grooming services throughout the year, across all stores in India.
In terms of products, Truefitt & Hill offers over 150 grooming products for men, for all scalp types and skin types. These are made in England, from all-natural, essential and vital elements. Truefitt & Hill was the first brand to introduce pre-shave oil, their signature product containing 10 essential oils that help in softening the skin and creating a soothing layer between the skin and razor for a smooth shaving experience.
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