Some businesses see an economic slowdown as a crisis, while some see latent opportunities in depressed sentiments. Among the latter set is the wellness services chain Kaya Skin Clinic, the subsidiary of Marico Ltd., which has expanded operations into several new services and product categories including the male beauty segment, services like ‘Designer Skin’ along with a concept of ‘Beauty Through Technology’ and ‘Kaya Life’.
Rakesh Pandey, the chief executive officer of Kaya Ltd., has played a crucial role in the retail brand’s growth and innovation since its inception in 2002. Pandey has over 25 years of experience in India and Europe in the arenas of business development and strategy through his earlier positions at British Oxygen, UK and Hindustan Unilever Ltd. and 17 years with Marico. Pandey is a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering and a post graduate in Global Programme on Management Development from the University of Michigan, USA. In a conversation with IndiaRetailing, Pandey reveals the tricks behind Kaya’s enduring success.
IndiaRetailing (IR): What is the driving philosophy of retail operations at Kaya?
Rakesh Pandey (RP): Our objectives focus on deploying innovation in business with a pioneering mindset and establishing new businesses. The group’s management style is participative, open and informal with a high emphasis on goal achievement and excellence.
We believe in a holistic balance between mind, body and soul, and we try to stay engaged in this balancing act by finding time for a wellness regime, playing squash, reading and travelling to new destinations.
Our philosophy is:
- Constantly striving to bring the best combination of technology, service and products to keep the customers delighted.
- Our obsession with standards of care and service, hygiene, safety and innovation in all our clinics. Most importantly, we enjoy what we do, our work is our passion and we motivate our team members with the same.
IR: While taking your retail operation forward in the Indian context, what is the biggest learning from the current slowdown?
RP: Continue to give the best to our loyal customers and nurture them. We aim to bring effective and innovative skin solutions to the Indian consumer, backed by world-class technology and service and also extend the Kaya brand to other innovative solutions for the consumer.
IR: Your personal vision when it coming to leading your retail team.
RP: I always try to infuse a few specific points into my team members that drive their responsibility and passion into their day-to-day work. I tell them:
- Keep the customer interest always on the centre. It is a great touchstone to resolve all diversions.
- Give the best to your customers, always. Being second best will never do; it does not bring joy, neither to you nor to your customers. Thus, be passionate about giving your best always.
- Be on the edge, push the boundaries; it will bring newness to the job and thus will keep the customers excited.
IR: Given the two schools of thought that are currently dominating the Indian retail industry — ‘aggressive expansion’ versus ‘slow but steady expansion’ — which has attracted you as your own retail strategy?
RP: As ours is a pioneering concept, we have expanded aggressively to reach a total of 95 clinics within six years in India and the Middle East. We follow a ‘hasten cautiously’ approach where we are expanding rapidly, but with a calculated approach.
IR: Your comment on the expression ‘Powerful Retailer’. According to you, which are the three most ‘powerful retailers’ in the world and why.
RP: According to me, a ‘Powerful Retailer’ delivers outstanding value on a sustainable basis to all its stakeholders, which includes customers, employees, shareholders and the society at large.
Therefore, the three brands of retail that fit into the powerful retailers’ concept in my mind are:
- Wal-Mart – As the world’s largest retailer it gives a unique value proposition to its customers.
- McDonald’s – For its standards and standardisation, scale, expansion and continuous localisation without losing its core value proposition.
- Starbucks – For lifting coffee drinking to a different level of experience.