Indian wellness guru Vandana Luthra's clinic VLCC has arrived in Nepal as the growing demand for trendy clothes, cosmetics and fitness centres creates an attractive market for Indian companies.
Sanjay Agarwal, a 44-year-old businessman whose Heritage Fashion is one of the top garment exporters in Nepal, has signed a deal with VLCC to become its first overseas franchisee.
"I used to enrol at VLCC during my visits to India," he said at a press conference in Kathmandu on Friday. "I was very impressed by their services and thought why not ask them to open a franchise in Nepal."
The first VLCC centre, being inaugurated in Kathmandu on Friday in the presence of Miss Nepal 2006 Sugarika KC, targets the middle and upper middle class clientele, especially the elite Rana families.
Agarwal says he plans to open another centre in the capital after six months following which there would be VLCC centres in the outer districts as well, starting with Pokhara city in central Nepal and Biratnagar, near the Indian border.
This is the first overseas franchise by VLCC, which has its own centres in India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Agarwal dismisses reports about Nepal being one of the poorest countries in the world. "People here are very conscious of their looks and fitness," he says, "and they have the capacity to spend money on that. Besides, we are not very expensive."
VLCC is charging Rs 1,200 for a per kg weight loss.
Agarwal is also unfazed by growing reports of union trouble in Nepal and demands for donation by various groups, including Maoists.
"There are 800 people in my garments factory," he says. "I know how to keep my employees happy."
Nepal is fast shaking off its image of being one of the least developed nations, with the demand for branded clothes, trendy cosmetics and fitness attracting Indian companies.
Shehnaz Hussain franchises her herbal cosmetic products in Nepal. Hairstylist Sylvie flies into Kathmandu for quick workshops while Habib has two hair studios in Kathmandu and its neighbouring Lalitpur district.