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Estetica Export met up with Lucian Miess, who is the Publisher of the Romanian and Republic of Moldova Edition of Estetica, as well as the founder of GETT’S – a long-standing, successful and innovative hair salon business in Romania.

In 1997 Lucian founded INGO Trade International, becoming an influential and trend-setting pioneer in the modern hair salon business in his country. He established high-level education and achieved the ambitious goal of upgrading professional standards.

Please, tell us about your company.
“We have a group of companies, both B2B and B2C, that work together to offer a complete service and range of products to our clients. We also have our own salon chain that operates in five-star hotels and malls. Our main brand is GETT’S, a beauty hub that this year is celebrating its 27th anniversary. I got the idea to start a company in the hair professional sector in 1996 when I was in Washington and saw the World Hairstylists Championship. That was when I understood there were plenty of opportunities in Romania to thrive in this business. So, the following year I started a company and opened our first GETT’S Hair Studio salon for high-class customers in Bucharest. Later on, more salons were opened in five-star hotels. You have to be aware that, at that time, just after the end of the dictatorship, in Romania, there was no middle class. So, in the beginning I focused on the very high clientele that represented only 1% of the market, rich customers but limited in terms of chance to grow the business. A few years later, the Romanian market was developing fast and many foreign companies entered the market. We understood that it was time to create a new brand more suitable for the growing middle class. We launched GETT’S Color Bar Salons, another concept of the salon to attract the middle-to high-level clientele that we open in the main Malls. In 2016 we also started GETT’S MEN, a barbershop chain”.

Romanian Hair & Beauty

But you’re much more than a chain of salon.
“Absolutely. We developed a complete set of services that we offer to a vast number of hair salons in our territory to satisfy any need. We offer business consultancies, software, salon design, furniture, and education, we distribute professional products and we also have a very rich media department that produces online content as well as printed magazines, including Estetica Romania”.

Romanian Hair & Beauty

How did you start your cooperation with Estetica?
“It’s something we needed to fulfill our vision. When we started here, the cultural level of Romanian hairdressers and clients, as well as their knowledge of international hairstyling was very low. So, we needed something to help increase the information and provide the suggestions we could get from all over the world to stimulate them and improve their level. Estetica is the right tool to elevate the knowledge of hairdressers and we enriched the Romanian edition with more content also about beauty and nail care, because in Romania most salons offer a complete beauty care service under one roof.
We also created the Estetica Award Romania which every year recognises the best achievements of our hairstylists. There are five categories: colour, haircut, man, make-up and avant-garde. It has been a very good educative instrument to involve the hairdressers and help them improve”.

How has the business been going in recent years in Romania?
“We reached our best performance in 2019, before the Covid crisis, when we had some 150,000 clients. Before that, the market has been steadily growing since the beginning of our activity. But the lockdown brought dramatic changes, we suffered a defragmentation of the market, when stylists migrate from salons to private apartments or rental chairs, thus the number of unregulated hairdressers has grown exponentially and has created an unfair competition with the normal salons.
At the time, one element that increased the problems was the mandatory Covid vaccination requested to enter a mall. So, all the businesses in the mall, including our salons, saw an unbelievable slump in the number of their customers”.

Is it better now?
“We lost nearly 50% of our clients in 2020, but in the following years, we have been clawing them back and have now almost reached our previous level”.

And how is the economy going in Romania?
“We are suffering the worst inflation in Europe, about 30% in the last 3 years. Now, prices are exploding. Last year, the two main players in our sector increased the price by 18% in one go. This was after the many adjustments they had previously made which should have stabilized the inflation rate. That makes it hard for companies like ours to keep going, because we are in the middle of the supply chain. It’s even harder for us because with our business in the malls, we have to face outrageously high rental costs.
The hair salon sector is seeing an increase in individual independent stylists who rent a chair inside a high-street salon – a phenomenon that makes the whole market cheaper and harder for high-class salons”.

Do you think the hair & beauty business is going to grow in Romania?
“The beauty industry is the mirror of social trends, when the situation is stable, people go out, spend, consume, obviously going through salons first. When times are hard, the first expenses to be cut, are the non-mandatory ones, thus impacting the sector. Owerall, Romania has been growing a lot since the dictatorship ended, from 30 Bln USD to 300 Bln USD, 1000% in GDP!, one of the highest growing economies in Europe. But now, the demographic crisis in Western countries is also hitting Romania and that breaks our economy from even stronger growth.
Being the 7th largest country in Europe, in size as well as in population, Romania, now entering top 10 economies, still has a chance to grow to the 7th place, a lot of sectors aren’t reaching the potential yet, tourism for example, being one of them. Nevertheless, we expect to see some more internal market increase in consumption, and now, with the wars in our neighbour country Ucraine and in the Middle East, the geo-strategic position on the Black Sea might increase strategic investments and help boost the economy even stronger, making Romania the leader of the region. Of course, due to the international tensions and also our proximity to war areas, it is really hard to guess what could happen in the future”.

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