March 21, 2023

Brian Ng, 43; Bernard Ng, 41; and Samuel Pei, 41; first met one another after they have been pursuing a level in accountancy at Nanyang Technological College (NTU).

Being in enterprise faculty, it’s no shock that the three made a transfer to dive into the entrepreneurship world collectively.

Of their first yr of college in 2003, they launched their first enterprise — an promoting and printing firm known as Bideas. Nonetheless operational at this time, it was impressed by college students’ frequent have to print banners, posters and different collateral for his or her tasks.

A decade later, the trio launched into yet one more enterprise enterprise, this time dipping their toes within the hair and sweetness trade.

Based in 2013, KC Group — initially named after the acronyms ‘Korean Idea Group’ — has since grown to turn into one among Singapore’s fastest-growing hair and sweetness group, helming a crew of greater than 300 artistic hairstylists and sweetness professionals.

They began out with Kcuts, a quick-cuts chain

Venturing into the wonder house had by no means crossed their minds, however a easy chat over espresso modified issues up for them.

Again in 2012, they have been leisurely having espresso in a mall whereas ready for his or her wives — who had additionally gone into enterprise collectively, working enrichment centres — after they seen a vacant store lot at Fusionopolis.

The 300 sq ft house impressed us to brainstorm concepts for our subsequent enterprise. It needed to fulfill 4 standards: It ought to be a money enterprise, be scalable, have good revenue margins, and be in pattern.

– Samuel Pei, co-founder and director of KC Group

The Singapore market was on the cusp of present process a retail Ok-transformation, and Korean ideas have been steadily going mainstream. Driving on the rising Korean magnificence (Ok-beauty) pattern then, they got here up with the concept of Kcuts, a no-frills quick-cuts hair salon chain that gives reasonably priced Korean-style haircuts in simply 10 minutes.

See also  Sean Bean Referred to as Out By Feminine Stars For Intimacy Coordinator Feedback

To assist obtain this imaginative and prescient, they employed a South Korean hair stylist to coach their employees, who’s now the chief director-stylist within the Group.

Kcuts outlet at Waterway Level / Picture Credit score: KC Group

In 2013, they opened the primary Kcuts outlet in Fusionopolis, earlier than occurring to open a string of different retailers in heartland malls within the following years.

Within the final yr alone, they opened 12 retailers. “Many cash changers and laundry outlets had folded in the course of the pandemic, making extra areas out there,” defined Samuel.

The pandemic has additionally emphasised the necessity for digitalisation, which prompted them to launch a cellular app for Kcuts, which is progressively being rolled out throughout all its retailers now. By way of the ‘kcutsGo’ app, customers can skip the queue, go cashless, and revel in flash offers and loyalty advantages, amongst different issues, with a number of easy faucets on their cellphone.

Apgujeong Hair Studio outlet at Novena / Picture Credit score: KC Group

Apart from Kcuts, KC Group based new hair ideas yearly. This consists of Apgujeong Hair Studio, a full-service Korean hair salon; Myeongdong Hair Studio and Kerluxe Hair Studio, one other full-service hair salon manufacturers that dominate neighbourhoods and workplace areas; Aoyama Hair Studio, a Japanese hair salon; and James Barker Barber in addition to Clippers Barber, that are each primarily based on English gents barbering ideas.

New ideas have been created to deal with the wants of various goal audiences in our market. By positioning our manufacturers to cater to the completely different value and age segments of the market, we successfully enlarged our market share. … By increasing into new ideas, it additionally creates diversification of dangers in order that our group turns into extra resilient in any stage of the financial cycle.

– Samuel Pei, co-founder and director of KC Group

As an example, throughout an financial downturn, some segments of the market could change their spending habits and change to the extra reasonably priced manufacturers below KC Group’s umbrella.

Equally, throughout an financial upswing, their spending sample may reverse, by which customers could also be extra keen to splurge on experiential remedies as an alternative of being overly value delicate.

Increasing their quick-service ideas to facials

Afterward in 2016, a enterprise journey to South Korea to analysis the hair trade opened their eyes to the lucrativeness of the wonder trade.

hanbang skin solutions singapore
Hanbang Pores and skin Options / Picture Credit score: KC Group

We opened Hanbang Pores and skin Options in 2018, our first facial model with a give attention to Korean facial contour remedy. It was a pricey endeavour that took virtually S$300,000 to arrange, but it was arduous to scale.

We have been very naive. Solely after we received into the wonder enterprise did we realise the way it really works. We thought we may financial institution on prospects coming in every day for a S$150 facial to cowl our lease, however we realised the wonder market could be very package-driven.

Gross sales consultants have been below stress to get individuals to signal five-figure packages, and it bred discontent and wariness amongst prospects who merely needed to get a facial executed.

– Samuel Pei, co-founder and director of KC Group

When the founders went undercover to take a look at different facial salons, they felt “confused” going without spending a dime trials. This was what prompted them to provide you with the concept of Kskin, an categorical facials service sans the hard-sell packages.

kskin facial singapore
Facial service at Kskin / Picture Credit score: KC Group

After a slight delay to the circuit breaker interval, the primary Kskin outlet was finally launched at Clementi Mall in August 2020. It goals to disrupt the standard magnificence trade with its distinctive “no appointment, no bundle” 15-minute categorical facial providers.

“We need to assist individuals get pleasure from a good, stress-free facial service and spend what they need to spend. It’s [about] going again to the unique enterprise mannequin of facials ‘occasions’ variety of prospects,” shared Samuel.

Past eliminating aggressive gross sales techniques, KC Group additionally makes it a degree to have the retailers of their two magnificence manufacturers strategically situated in MRT-connected buying malls and HDB industrial estates throughout Singapore.

Aggressive growth for higher model consciousness

Though the trio usually are not first-time entrepreneurs, Samuel expressed that it’s by no means simple beginning up a brand new model.

At the beginning, KC Group strongly pushed for his or her manufacturers to “do good” and actively took half in campaigns with constructive social affect.

kcuts hair for hope 2016
Kcuts at Hair For Hope 2016 / Picture Credit score: Kcuts

By way of partnerships with organisations driving social causes reminiscent of Kids Most cancers Basis by way of their signature annual ‘Hair For Hope’ fundraising occasions, in addition to Deal with the Household to advertise sturdy household values, the general public turned extra aware of their manufacturers and have been capable of belief them extra.

“It takes braveness and religion to step into the unknown,” he stated, including that it was difficult to get individuals to belief a brand new model since they have an inclination to go for tried-and-tested manufacturers.

“It was solely once we scale Kcuts past 20 retailers [did] individuals begin to take discover of us, and started to deal with us as a critical entrant into the hair and sweetness trade.”

Nonetheless, with the ambition to quickly broaden, manpower quickly turned an issue for them. They finally turned to franchising as a method of growth, which allowed them to leverage on the community of their franchise companions to proceed rising, even in a decent labour market.

That stated, KC Group takes nice satisfaction in caring for its workers. They undertake a pro-family coverage, providing workers with households a excessive diploma of flexibility of their work preparations; in addition to supply ITE scholarship awards to encourage eligible employees to pursue their training and up-skill throughout their tenures with the corporate.

Now they’ve 120 retailers throughout all manufacturers

In line with Samuel, their startup capital was “minimal”. The co-founders invested about S$1 million and managed to interrupt even in lower than three years. They didn’t have the backing of any traders, nor did they depend on any financial institution loans and exterior financing.

When COVID-19 first hit Singapore again in 2020, they needed to rapidly adapt to the continually evolving secure administration measures and implement them throughout all their native retailers.

kcuts covid
Secure distancing ground markers outdoors Kcuts outlet, throughout Section 2 of re-opening / Picture Credit score: Berny Tan

The price of enterprise operations additionally surged in the course of the pandemic part, with frequent store closures because of deep cleansing and sanitisation every time COVID circumstances have been reported.

“Excessive charges of medical go away and sudden employees absentees have been additionally factored into working prices every time there are COVID infections or shut contact circumstances occurring regularly, making manpower planning a nightmare for enterprise operations,” stated Samuel.

“The brilliant aspect of the pandemic is that many extra retail areas instantly turned out there, and we have been capable of seize the chance to additional broaden our retail footprints.”

As we speak, KC Group has 120 retailers in Singapore throughout all manufacturers, racking up group gross sales of S$20 million. Specifically, Kcuts and Kskin have 68 and 22 retailers respectively.

With such a robust bodily presence islandwide, Samuel admitted that quickly rising the variety of retailers is certainly a part of their enterprise technique to accumulate market share.

Relating to the Singapore market, customers are spoilt for decisions and the necessity for accessibility and comfort for the shopper is paramount if we’re eager to seize the mindshare and consumption {dollars} of our goal prospects, thus the necessity for extra retail outlet presence and improved attain to our prospects.

Having stated that, the flexibility of our manufacturers to retain and domesticate loyal repeat prospects is an equally vital technique with the intention to construct manufacturers with longevity.

– Samuel Pei, co-founder and director of KC Group

Sharing future plans, Samuel revealed that they’ll proceed to launch new hair and beauty-related manufacturers.

In reality, they’re presently within the midst of launching a brand new model of hair removing service within the fourth quarter of this yr. Known as Smoovee Pores and skin, it makes use of a sophisticated type of gentle remedy, promising a pain-free with no downtime hair removing expertise.

Finally, KC Group goals to develop to a neighborhood presence of greater than 200 retailers, and finally deliver its manufacturers abroad as a part of its growth plan.

“Regardless of the frequent conception that the market is small and saturated, we firmly imagine there are nice alternatives for our manufacturers to proceed to develop in Singapore. Our manufacturers are well-positioned with distinctive promoting factors to distinguish ourselves from the prevailing rivals,” summed up Samuel.

Featured Picture Credit score: KC Group