How much of the business does the Lotus professional range account for?
The professional range accounts for some 10 percent of our overall business. We want to grow this rapidly. In the next year, we see the growth as being 50 percent. We are doing 2,500 salons now but have the capacity to cater to 5,000. Right now we don’t have a salon retail line which we plan to come out with shortly. We have a unique positioning in this segment — the packaging with monodoses is much more hygienic and the products also have a high percentage of natural active ingredients.
What do you see as the total size of the skincare market?
The skincare market is worth an approximate Rs 125 crore. The haircare market is two and a half times this size. There is a lot of scope for growth. There are a lot of international players in the skincare market but they haven’t done much in terms of training. We have been organizing regular seminars in 35 to 40 cities.
How many points of sale does Lotus have?
Lotus is in 25,000 doors for skincare in retail. These Nitin Passi is the Director Marketing, Lotus Herbals, a fast growing company in the natural products segment. He shares his vision with Salon India include small shops, grocery outlets and bigger stores all over the country. Make-up is very selective — we are in 280 doors and plan to be in 500 outlets by 2010. On the broader level, people still don’t understand enough about natural make-up in the country but our efforts are on.
How do you see the space for natural brands growing?
The testimony to this remains that mainline brands have been tinkering with natural categories. Mineral make-up continues to grow and will get stronger with time. The overall phenomenon of well being is to use products that are safe and effective. The premium natural products market in India is worth Rs 250 to Rs 300 crore and has been growing at 16 to 18 percent CAGR over the last 10 years.
What have been the highlights of 2009 for Lotus?
On the retail side we have had a very successful year. We launched Safe Sun absolute™ sun protection brand, Keraveda ™ brand shampoos and conditioners with soy and neem extracts, a lip gloss range and a make-up sub brand called pure colors™. The customer acceptance for our botanical liquid eyeliner and hypnotica™ botanical eye pencil is very high.
How has the economic crisis affected you?
There was a decline in the sales growth rate until September 2009. Customers had pulled back on spending and the expansion of modern trade declined. A lot of unviable stores shut down or went bankrupt — it was a tough time for everyone in the beauty industry as consumers were not willing to spend more than their basic toiletries. The growth rate from October ‘09 has picked up; retail in general has picked up. Customers are back in stores, the confi dence is back. Meanwhile, there was no real degrowth for us last year – we have seen a 35 percent growth in the topline last fi scal. This year our growth projection is for 30 percent.
What do you envision for 2010?
The new products in our pipeline are very strong. We are a strong research driven company and focus on new ingredients, new formulations, etc. Our plan for 2010 remains to grow organically in the stores in which we are in as well as see more retail expansion.