Chennai dental chain to go pan-India, expand into Ethiopia


Chennai : VV Dentistree, a well known chain of dental hospitals based here, plans to expand pan-India, target the $1-billion dental tourism market from abroad and manage a four-chair specialised department in this area at a hospital in Ethiopia.

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“We plan to add 12-18 centres to our chain in India each year. Bulk of it will be via the franchise route. Initially, we will look at converting existing dental clinics to our banner, and not greenfield units,” said managing director V. Vijayakumar.

“A four-chair clinic would involve an outlay of around Rs.4 million ($90,000). The break-even can happen within three months and the investment can be recovered over a five-year period,” Vijayakumar said.

The company chief said dental tourism was also growing in a big way and Dentistree will take a bite in this segment in a major way, signing up with the travel-trade industry for combining tourism and dental treatments in India.

According to a study by leading lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), the size of the Indian medical tourism sector is around Rs.4,500 crore ($1 billion) and is likely to touch Rs.10,800 crore ($2.4 billion) by 2015.

“Foreign visitors avail of our dental services mainly to save on waiting time overseas and also costs, as India is a lot cheaper compared to the US and other countries,” said the group’s executive director Mir Ali Reza.

A root canal treatment in India, for example would cost as low as $65, while it could be as much as $600 in the US, he explained.

In Ethiopia, he said, Dentistree will man the dental department of a new hospital there with an investment of around Rs.9 million ($200,000). “We will send six consultants and two surgeons. We are also looking at Sri Lanka and Middle East for our chain .”