VLCC, an Indian wellness brand, aims to invest about Tk 140 crore in Bangladesh by 2016 in a bid to grab the growing beauty and health care business.
The company wants to strengthen its footprint in every category of the wellness sector by opening more beauty and sliming centres and establishing vocational training institutes.
“We want to pour funds into the wellness sector to transform Bangladesh,” Vandana Luthra, founder of VLCC, said in an interview with The Daily Star in Dhaka on Monday.
“Bangladesh is an interesting market for us as peoples here are becoming more conscious about healthcare with a rising per capita income,” said the 55-year-old.
VLCC has already established a factory in the BSCIC Industrial Area in Jamalpur with about Tk 61 crore—the company's first in South Asia, outside India.
The company has set aside about Tk 200 crore for investments since it launched its operations in Bangladesh in 2010.
“We have set up the manufacturing base here to produce skincare, hair care and sun-protection products locally,” said Luthra, adding that the products would be affordable and tailored to local preferences.
The company that has been in Bangladesh since 2010 also plans to enhance its product distribution network to sell its personal care products in partnership with local distributors, said the Indian entrepreneur.
Luthra came to Dhaka to formally inaugurate the second VLCC wellness centre at Dhanmondi and launch the locally produced skin, hair and body-care products.
The company aims to establish vocational training schools, the VLCC Institute of Beauty and Nutrition in Bangladesh in the next eight months, she said.
Luthra, a mentor, facilitates professional training to nearly 10,000 such students a year through her vocational schools, which has 53 campuses in India and Nepal.
“Such an institute will help the wellness industry here grow properly and empower more women.”
“VLCC's growing presence in Bangladesh will also play a modest role in strengthening the bilateral business relationship between India and Bangladesh,” Luthra, a recipient of the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India.
At present, the country's beauty market is said to be worth Tk 655 crore in annual sales, which is almost three times its value in 2008.
The sector has great potential due to the country's rising middle-class population and the increasing health and beauty consciousness among locals, the company said.
VLCC, with upwards of Rs 700 crore in turnover in 2012-13, aims to reach Rs 1,000 crore in the next two years.
Currently, the company earns around 36 percent of total revenue from international operations with a plan to increase it to 50 percent.
The company operates through 300 locations across 121 cities in 16 countries, with its cosmetics and wellness products selling at over 80,000 retail outlets, employing nearly 6,000 worldwide.
The Indian firm has been expanding its presence inorganically, picking up stakes in Malaysian and Singaporean firms.
Last year, it bought a majority stake in Global Vantage Innovative Group, a Singapore-based high-end personal care, dermatology products and cosmetics maker.
On graduating from Delhi University, Luthra pursued higher education in nutrition and cosmetology from Germany.
Subsequently, she took a series of specialised courses and modules in beauty care, fitness, food and nutrition and skin care from London, Munich and Paris.