Fueled by new majority owner Puig, Kama Ayurveda is expanding beyond India and taking its holistic healing message to the U.K. later this year.
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In June it plans to launch a direct-to-consumer site and open a physical space, the House of Kama, in central London in the autumn where customers will be able to engage with the product; have hand, head and feet massages; and book appointments with Ayurvedic doctors for specialist advice on diet and well-being.
In an interview Sahni said the U.K. was the ideal market to kick off the brand’s international expansion.
“It’s a tourist city, but also a multicultural one, English-speaking and with a highly aware local clientele. It made sense,” he said. According to Euromonitor, it is the second largest European beauty market after Germany and is in the top 10 worldwide.
Thomas James, chief brand officer of Niche Brands and Wellness at Puig, added that the U.K. “is not a conservative market. It’s open to innovation.”
The opening of Sephora earlier this month at Westfield London, and the rapid expansion of homegrown competitors SpaceNK, H Beauty and Boots are all evidence of U.K. demand, which remains strong despite the cost-of-living crisis in the country.
Sahni added that he wants Kama Ayurveda to be about education, and opening consumers’ eyes to the ancient Indian medical practice of Ayurveda, which is based on maintaining a balance between mind, body and soul through massage therapy, diet, herbal treatments, yoga and acupuncture.
Sahni, who traveled to Ayurveda’s home in Kerala, southern India, to research the practice and develop the products, described Kama as a “new brand with an old story.”
His pitch is clear. “This is not an anti-aging brand. We want people to age in the best possible way.”
The skin care and hair care products are plant-based, and draw on botanical oils and blends, which Kama said are biodegradable, clean and based on centuries-old recipes from India.
Kama Ayurveda currently has 63 stand-alone stores, and 70 shop-in-shops across India, and said competition in the Ayurveda consumer space has grown considerably since it launched more than 20 years ago, spurred by the pandemic.
James said that, going forward, the plan is to expand further in the U.K.
“The U.K. is a priority for us, but want to see how Kama Ayurveda resonates with the local customer before we scale the business. We want to take our time,” he said, adding the brand wants to “decode Ayurveda for the local customer, and make it easy to understand.”
Puig, he added, was happy to take its time building Kama Ayurveda, and the Niche Brands and Wellness categories as a whole.
Puig originally purchased a minority stake in Kama Ayurveda in 2019, and took ownership of the brand last year. “We wanted to approach the wellness category in a different way and have an angle, and a strong message, with our skin care,” he said.