Updated on: Thursday, May 28, 2020, 11:18 AM IST

Coronavirus in Mumbai: Spa, parlour staff unpaid; firms see tough road ahead

Beauty schools are also suffering. There was a huge revenue loss as admissions in beauty schools stopped due to the lockdown

Mumbai: Lummi Abujam, 34, says once the lockdown ends, he may not work for the salon he has been working with as a hairstylist for 13 years now. He is looking for another job. Abujam feels he has been left in the lurch during this difficult time.

The last time he got paid was in March – for half the month that he worked while the salon functioned. His salon is part of a chain that has 10 branches in the city. He lives with his brother, sister-in-law and a cousin. None of them has been paid either – all work in salons, spas and restaurants. They are surviving on savings and have not been able to pay the Rs 20,000 rent of their house.

Many like Abujam who work in salons and spas in the city are in the same situation and some depend on ration that comes from NGOs.

Vikram Bhatt, founder and director of Enrich Salons - a chain with has salons across the country and around 50 shops in Mumbai, said they have had to revise the pay of their staff. “We had the choice of lay-offs, but we will consider letting people go on sabbaticals and staff will work on a rotational basis when the salons open. There will be a Team A and Team B working at any point, so that in case anyone got infected in one team, not all employees are exposed,” says Bhatt.

Beauty schools are also suffering. There was a huge revenue loss as admissions in beauty schools stopped due to the lockdown, says Seema Ghorpujkar, principal of Seema Institute and Salon. She calls the situation a nightmare which will possibly haunt the industry for a long time.

Kiran Bawa, Managing Director, Iosis Wellness which has two spas in Mumbai and franchises in a few other cities, says that providing protective equipment would mean an added cost of Rs 200 - 250, that not every customer will be happy about. This equipment would consist of foot covers, gloves, gown and face mask - all disposable.

Says Rekha Chaudhari of Caressa Spa, Juhu that customers are used to discounts and this will be a big burden. She says she would not be able to retain all of her 15 staff. “Due to the need for social distancing, we will have to attend to only four to five clients at a time, when earlier we could take ten clients,” she says.

Krishna Gupta, Founder, Truefitt and Hill India, which offers premium grooming services for men, says footfalls dropped in March beginning itself by 30 to 40 per cent. His chain is trying to negotiate rentals with landlords for a 40 to 60 per cent reduction in rentals for the coming 12 months. He is planning on daily checks on the temperature of his staff and reduction in time of premium services to maintain safety.

Many of these businesses are looking at a revenue sharing model with landlords to keep afloat in the months to come.

Small players in the sector meanwhile have defaulted on paying rents. Says Harsha Sushil of Studio 13 in Navi Mumbai, that she could not pay the April rent. She may not be able to retain all 20 of her staff as that itself will crowd her space. “The revenue comes from higher cost services, which people won’t go for,” she says.

Rajiv Nair, Group CEO, Kaya Limited which has 22 clinics in Mumbai, says they have been receiving queries from apprehensive clients about the kind of measures they will be taking when they open their clinics. “We are trying to procure PPEs and UVC lamps which disinfect viruses, he says. Kaya is also trying for a three-month rent waiver.

Bhatt of Enrich Salons however is positive. “People are missing malls, movies, shopping. Our industry is such that makes people look good and feel good, so I think people will come to us before they start normal life."

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Published on: Thursday, May 28, 2020, 06:00 AM IST