Vikram Bhatt reveals the strategies that led Enrich to grow exponentially in an exclusive interview with StyleSpeak.

Words | Sandhya Chipalkatti

The Enrich story began when two friends Vikram Bhatt and Rohit Dedhia pitched in to help a common friend set up a salon in Mumbai in 1997. Growing from that first salon to the highly respected chain of over 100 company-owned and operated salons has been a journey that has been interesting and fulfilling!

We headed to their expansive HQ in Andheri, Mumbai, and met the OG’s Vikram Bhatt and Rohit Dedhia to hear the story straight from them.

What was your role at the start in Enrich?

My role was to set up the business with a structured approach and support the backend systems for smooth functioning. I continued working in the corporate world and supported the business post my working hours and on weekends. This was 1997-2004, the first phase (1.0) of our journey. Till 2004, I was ‘supposedly’ just helping the business as a friend.

From day one, we introduced a few firsts (unknown to us then):

  • A membership program that included the primary member and their family – this was meant to primarily build customer loyalty and provide stickiness. The Membership programs you see in the beauty business till date originate from the basic construct we began back then
  • We introduced a service menu to ensure transparency in the price we charged customers.
  • We focused on both technical training and the overall learning & development of the team – at the end of the day, your brand is all about the last-mile execution on the floor
  • Enrich was also the first to introduce the concept of a ‘Floor Manager’ in 1997.

When we opened the third outlet in Vile Parle, unlike the super success of the first two salons, we did face challenges initially. We were good, but how would the customers know that? So, we distributed complimentary gift cards for customers to come and experience our services. That proved to be a good punt, and we started getting good walk-ins for the first free service initiative, and things began to roll for us. The insight of sampling as the best way to market an experience is what we had stumbled upon and were quick to realise and replicate.

In the Enrich 2.0 (2004 to 2010), we focused on structuring the business. By then, while I continued supporting the business as earlier, my brother-in-law Mukesh Joshi had joined us, and both he and Rohit started devoting most of their time while the erstwhile partner we opened the first two salons moved on in 2000.

In 2004, we opened two salons within a week’s gap. As we grew, we became a Private Limited entity and made the business structured and compliant. We set up a back office to manage non-customer-facing tasks like the inventory, accounting, and salary processes centrally so that the Managers and team on the ground could focus on the Customers and manage their team. While continuing to add a couple of outlets every year, we also worked closely with brand partners like L’Oreal Professionnel, which helped to enhance team skills and customer experience. Education became the key driver for the business growth. We reached 12 outlets and 22 crores in revenue in 2010.

The Enrich 3.0, (2010 to 2018) was the time for hyper-growth – we scaled to five cities and 55 outlets, and business grew tenfold. We onboarded two professionals, Sachin Kamat and Bhupesh Dinger, to strengthen the management bandwidth. We have received our first round of equity infusion from a private equity fund. From then on, I moved full-time to lead the business. We refined the brand identity with Enrich core values, redefined the logo, adopted the best of store design and formats, developed a strong brand mix, implemented the best people practices and business processes, and took customer engagement to the next level.

Enrich owes its reputation of being the best in business to the invaluable contribution of Sachin & Bhupesh; their efforts and dedication have been instrumental in shaping Enrich.

The Enrich 4.0 (2018 to 2023) of the journey began in 2018. We got the second round of funding, and JM, the first Equity partner, and MJ, my brother-in-law Mukesh, who had immensely contributed to several aspects of the business in his tenure, decided to exit. We added 30 new outlets and renovated 30 existing outlets in fifteen months. 2020, the COVID time was the most challenging phase; where the business suffered. Thankfully, we could manage well with the support from bankers and our PE partner West Bridge Capital. For the first time, we shut down five outlets but ensured that Planet Enrich members were safe & secure and retained all of them during both waves.

Enrich emerged as the most trusted brand for customers, a great place to work for team members, and one of the most admired organisations for brand partners and business associates. We also expanded the product business and partnered with premium brands in the make-up and fragrance category under the leadership of Vivek Bali.

In 2022, we started investing in developing the second in line and designing the Enrich 5.0 , org structure to fuel the growth of the brand and create opportunities for professional growth, personal development, and success for the leadership team and Planet Enrich members. We have groomed them and now we have created a platform for them to operate.

Sachin, Bhupesh, and Vivek have moved on. Sumant Arora has been elevated to the role of CEO at Enrich. In the past two years, his invaluable contributions in defining store expansion strategy, streamlining backend processes, and, most importantly, driving technology adoption positions him as the ideal candidate to lead Planet Enrich and propel our business to the next level.

Education has been a strong pillar at Enrich! Our partnership with Asha Hariharan & AHA has shown excellent results. She and Samir Hariharan, bring to the forefront decades of expertise that create the Enrich brand’s signature of beauty.

We have strengthened our management bandwidth too significantly – Expansion and Finance areas crucial for scaling up the business. Brijesh Goyal leads these functions. Sales and Operations are the areas where we need to scale up the most; Abhishek Lamba, who has extensive experience in the retail business at a scale, is the best suited to lead these efforts. Planet Enrich has reached this far because of its Best People Practices and Culture. Gaytri Jethwaney heads the team and will continue to ensure Planet Enrich members are in sync with Enrich core values. Anurag Dubey spearheads the Technology development of our new Technology stack across stores and at the back end. Young people must come in and take on the mantle. Everything has a time and a phase, as things are evolving fast and Enrich continues to have the best people at the helm.

Rohit and I continue as the owners, the stakeholders, and the board of Directors. We support the management team but have been hands-off from active day-to-day operations.

Where is Enrich poised to go?

We started the calendar year 2023 with 80 outlets and now crossed 100 outlets, 15 more locations are signed and under construction. We will keep growing geographically in existing cities and plan to add two to three cities this year.

Enrich as a brand is significant for all its stakeholders. Enrich is also important for the industry. And I feel blessed to have the privilege and pride of being the Founder! 😊