The INR 3,000 crore Yash Birla group has decided to enter the domestic health and wellness market through a new company, Birla Wellness. In the initial phase, the group would invest INR 300 crore in the new segment. The group has already formed a j oint venture with leading hospital group Apollo Hospitals to enter the hospital segment while it’s close to picking up a controlling stake in Kerala Ayurvedic Health Spa, a leading ayurvedic therapy firm in south India. Birla Wellness would also form a joint venture with a leading Singapore-based health and wellness firm to bring high-end health and wellness products and programmes to the Indian market, sources close to development said. Last year, the Yash Birla group had undertaken a restructuring programme to streamline its operations. It had then identified health and wellness as a new growth area and roped in consultancy firm Ernst and Young (E&Y) to outline a business plan. Currently, the group is operating in engineering, auto component, textile and power equipment segments. When contacted group chairman Yash Birla said, “Health and wellness is a burgeoning market in India. The group has identified it as a growth area. We have already formed a JV with Apollo Hospital to set up 200-bed hospital in Thane in Mumbai.” He was, however, reluctant to divulge details on the Singapore deal and buying the Kerala spa. Currently, the Indian health and wellness market, estimated at INR 2,000 crore, is on a boom with a year-on-year growth of over 25%. According to analysts tracking the sector, the attitude and preferences of the Indian consumers are changing due to a rise in their disposable incomes, high consumption propensity and exposure to global trends. “This has led to an increase in demand for health and wellness products and services. The retailing boom in India has also contributed to the growth of the entire wellness industry,” said an analyst with E&Y who requested anonymity. Big retail firms are offering wellness products such as medical and nutritional products, fitness equipment, consultation, eye testing, books, and audio video material on health and wellness under one roof. In fact, Yash Birla is not the only group eyeing the booming health and wellness sector. Others like Manipal Group and Dabur India have already entered the market with grand plans for the future. According to Mr Birla, the group is also expanding its hospitals in Nashik and Pilani in Rajasthan while it would set up a over 14 spas across the country by the first quarter of next financial year under the name of new JV company.