Wahanda Rebrands To Treatwell, Eyes Up U.S. Entry

Wahanda, the European hair and beauty marketplace that Japan’s Recruit Holdings majority acquired last year for $117 million (at a $240 million pre-money valuation), is getting a makeover of its own. Today the company has rebranded to Treatwell. The name comes from an acquisition made in June 2015 to expand its services in Holland, Germany and Belgium.

The name change and brand refresh — led by the same team that worked on Airbnb’s last overhaul — comes as the company continues to eye up how best to expand to the U.S.. There, companies like StyleSeat and Groupon offer platforms for consumers to connect with local salons for haircuts and other beauty treatments; but the majority of IT solutions focused on the hair and beauty market are to sell cloud-based software to salons without the marketplace component, according to Treatwell CEO and founder Lopo Champalimaud.

“I would love to do more in the U.S. We’re looking at it have had conversations to understand how we might enter,” said Champalimaud in an interview. There are a lot of software players in the U.S., with a glut of businesses making for a fragmented market. “It would make sense for us to go in by acquisition,” he added.

Treatwell, née Wahanda, was first founded back in 2008 and has so far focused on Europe, building itself up as one of the bigger marketplaces in the category. Salons join it to gain access to its reservation management and loyalty software, and also appear on its platform as a secondary discovery route to pick up new customers who aren’t already regulars. Consumers use it as a quick way of looking for deals on specific treatments, or to find availability for a service based on time and location.

The company claims to be the biggest of its kind in Europe, with 500 employees, 20,000 bookable venues and 10 million users with $108 million in sales projected for this year. Champalimaud also claims that Treatwell’s valuation is “substantially” higher now than it was when Recruit took its majority stake.

And as part of the larger Recruit operation that owns Hot Pepper Beauty in Japan, Treatwell is one of the bigger platforms globally. Other players in Europe include Miora and Rocket Internet’s Vaniday.

The rebrand is to help the business provide a united front as it expands globally. Up to now, the company has grown both organically and by acquisition, and to keep brand recognition in each local market, it has held on to the brands it has acquired, which have also included Salonium, Salonmeister and Zensoon over the years.

But Champalimaud says that this started to become too inefficient to handle five different brands, and even if Treatwell is in English, the Wahanda umbrella brand, using a word that doesn’t mean anything specific in any language covered by the business, didn’t work either. “Wahanda may have built a pretty substantial brand presence in the UK, but it was a totally different situation in other places,” Champalimaud said. “In Italy the word is hard to pronounce, and nowhere does Wahanda actually say what it means.”

Treatwell enlisted the help of DesignStudio, the same London-based agency that worked with Airbnb on its redesign, to work on the rebrand.