In November 2016, the Government of India announced demonitization of some of its bank notes. Hot on its heels came another blow, the implementation of GST as a tax reform. While the beauty and wellness industry is grappling with the aftermath of these two whirlwinds, the Union Budget for FY2018-19 has induced positive momentum. Salon India spoke to a few stakeholders to know which way the industry is going – is it still bullish or has it slowed down considerably?
Impact on the business: We are working with the lower mid and upper bottom of the pyramid set of customers and the impact is not as significant yet. Moreover, we will continue to grow faster for we have more customers to reach out to. We managed to outpace the industry’s growth and intend to continue with aggressive growth till 2021, but there is a fear that the industry may have a slower growth. In today’s scenario the earning per service for the salon has fallen drastically. Our target is to create at least 20,000 skilled stylists till 2021 to fill the vacuum and deliver higher value to the stakeholders.
Positive outcomes: For us, there is nothing great in this particular budget. I see it as more burden on individuals who will be paying mandatory taxes for every service/product they consume which means less disposable income. It is good to see some initiatives like medical health cover of Rs 5 lakhs for a particular income group and protecting farmers’ interest, but again this only safeguards the interest for a year or so.
View on GST: GST is one of the best things which happened to India with so much of ease from both upper and lower houses as we have severe political complexities. There are a few lacunas which are still haunting the small and medium enterprises, such as the taxation ambit, slab and compliances are not well thought out. Better preparations like adequate IT infrastructure, longer gestation period and easy compliances could have been a better modus operandi to make the shift smooth. GST on essential commodities and services should have been nominal to ensure that it does not put additional burden on an average household. This is the first generation GST and it will require massive transformation and consideration as we move forward. The current GST is putting additional load on the consumer which will result in restrictive spending leading to slower growth.
Impact of GST on the business: GST has had an impact across consumer goods sector, no one was spared but to be honest we did far better than what we had planned and anticipated. We were very much in control of our business and we grew by 45 per cent in the same quarter over last year in sales and minimised receivables. The mantra was to keep key stake holder engaged with various activities. Having a small business and small team helped us change our strategy overnight and allocate resources in the right direction was core reason we succeeded and overcame the wrath of GST and turned it into a powerful performance.
Challenges still being faced: The industry forecast is that it will still take time to overcome the sluggish trend that has set in post GST. As a company, we are not facing challenges except that we cannot bill the customers who do not have GST number. Typically billing it to the small distributors/wholesalers against advance payments has stopped and this is not impacting our business, as the larger set of distributors are doing far better than before. Hence, it annuls the business losses. Our end salon customers are still far from coming into the GST range.
Overcoming them: We over performed in the worst time, hence going forward would be better for us as the industry would start settling down with better government system and processes. We will continue delivering value for money proposition to our customer with world class education exposure leading to better draw at the end.
Plans for the business in this fiscal year: There is a lot in our bucket list and we hope to achieve them all in phases. We are reviewing all aspects of our business including current product basket, images, and marketing collaterals. We are looking at making our product’s value proposition more interesting for its users. Training would be the heart of all engagements with our clients. We are investing heavily in designing educational modules and setting up technical centres in select cities and are open to collaborations for quality education in professional hair care segment. Based on last three year’s performance and a new investment planned for current year and the future, Streax Professional is bound to be a game changer in its space.
22 Nitin Passi, Director, Lotus Herbals
View on GST for FY2018-19: GST is a milestone tax reform in India. It is a great transformation to build a single tax nation. The introduction of GST was marred by operational and technology issues which were subsequently addressed. We look forward to more simplification of the rules to make it more business-friendly and hence, result in a higher tax mop-up.
Impact of GST on the business: The first few months of the roll-out were really tough as would be with any significant change. I think the trade was not well prepared. Nevertheless, things are better now, trade is again bullish and back to normal business. We expect good business in the hinterlands in the coming year.
Challenges still facing: IT backend which needs to be streamlined further.
Overcoming them: We have raised the issue with various government agencies and they are looking into it.