Russian hair salon chain cuts all the frills

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A new chain of hair salons in Russia offering haircuts for just $3 by employing no staff except for hairdressers is expanding and thinks it has a winning formula for business abroad.

The Superman franchise strips out all but the essential overheads, offering customers a menu of five standard styled haircuts, which they can select upon arrival and pay for at self-service terminals.

Customers cannot book in advance as there are no staff to book appointments. Barbers clean up after themselves, using vacuum cleaners built into the walls.

The cheapest trim on the menu is the 200-ruble ($2.96) “box” haircut, while the most expensive is the eponymous “superman” which costs 500 rubles.

Founded by Vasily Mikhailov in August 2016, the chain now has 12 salons in Moscow and one in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. It plans to open branches in Kursk, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg, Murmansk and St Petersburg.

Mikhailov believes there is demand to set up around 5,000 barbershops in Russia and hopes to expand abroad.

“Our dream, so to speak, is to enter China, because China is a huge market, and if we establish ourselves there, it would be very cool,” he said.

Mikhailov said the customer data they collect from the self-service payment terminals helps them refine their advertising campaigns to broaden their client base.

Raisat Kozayeva, a hairdresser, said the conditions at the salons were good.

“There is a sink, there is everything here,” she said.

Reporting by Anastasia Adasheva; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by