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Mumbai: Dubai-based healthcare service provider Advet Bhambhani Ventures (ABV) plans to enter India by setting up the country’s first luxury hospital chain.

The group, which runs a network of medical centres, day surgery hospitals and a dedicated doctor-on-call service in West Asia, will set up all-suite hospitals in the metros and a few other cities in India, said Advet Bhambhani, executive chairman and chief executive officer, ABV Group, in an interview.

Luxury hospitals is a new concept in India, where the cost of private healthcare is relatively high.

India’s private healthcare market is dominated by corporate hospital chains such as Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd and Fortis Healthcare Ltd.

ABV runs its healthcare services under three key brands—Nucleus Medical and Diagnostics Centre, Lifeline Healthcare and 800 Doctor—and will use the first for its luxury hospital chain.

The group has already set up a local unit of Nucleus Medical Centre in Mumbai to test the market.

“ABV is looking at an investment of at least 500 crore for facilities at multiple locations in the country and will have its first hospital in Mumbai,"said Bhambhani.

The Dubai-based hospital group’s India entry comes even as the country’s healthcare landscape is changing at a rapid pace. While home-grown corporate hospital chains including Apollo Hospitals, Fortis Healthcare, Max Healthcare Ltd and Wockhardt Hospitals Ltd have been raising their market share, two non-resident Indian groups —Dubai-based Aster DM Healthcare Llc and Abu Dhabi-based NMC Healthcare—have established a presence in the country.

Although the model that will be followed by Nucleus Hospitals is different from the existing mass or multi-segment model of the established healthcare companies, it will add to the changing dynamics of India’s healthcare delivery business, says a healthcare expert.

“It will set another trend in the fast growing Indian healthcare delivery market as there is a demand for such a model (luxury hospitals) in the country among the rich and the ultra-rich, who otherwise prefer to go abroad," said a healthcare partner with a consultancy firm, who didn’t wish to be identified.

Indeed, hospitals in Singapore and the US are popular with this segment.

Still, it will be a first-of-its-kind initiative, he added.

“No such model currently exists in India and its success will purely depend on the superior quality of treatment and services directly in comparison with the global standards since the targeted segment is very niche and affluent," the consultant added.

The hospitals business has a long payback period that his healthcare group can ill-afford, said Bhambhani.

“Since our initial investment is going to be purely from our own funds, a long gestation period is a risky option. So, we don’t want to follow the traditional model," says Bhambhani.

The luxury model also means the company doesn’t need to obsess with pricing. “We will charge all our services at par with the upper-band of the pricing of the existing corporate hospitals in India, and the quality of services and treatment in our facilities will meet the standards of any such high-end hospitals in the world," Bhambhani said.

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