Home » ‘It’s a complete s***show’: Inside the franchising scandal at global cosmetic giant Laser Clinics

‘It’s a complete s***show’: Inside the franchising scandal at global cosmetic giant Laser Clinics

“Con artists”, “amateurs”, “Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!” are some of the more polite reviews that lit up social media when a global retail franchise network started closing stores with little thought for its customers who had pre-paid for services.

Laser Clinics, which offers laser hair removal, injectables and other non-surgical cosmetic treatments, first opened in Australia in 2008 and now has more than 200 clinics globally. It’s battling a PR crisis as some of its UK stores close, attracting the wrath of customers on social media, in newspapers and on TV.

It comes as some franchisees threaten legal action, claiming they are being driven out of business by the owner of the franchise, private equity giant KKR, famously referred to as “barbarians at the gate”.

The Laser Clinics website includes a map with more than 100 stores in Australia, 20 in New Zealand, 50 in the UK and seven in Canada. Its Asian clinics have disappeared from the website after the franchise expanded there just a few years ago.

The business offers a range of cosmetic services including laser hair removal, injectables and other treatments.(Pexels: Polina Tankilevitch)

The bad publicity is spreading like wildfire, with one customer posting on trustpilot.com: “One after the other the clinics are closing down … This is the downfall of [the] major Australian company Laser Clinics … The customers are left with no notice of the closures, the management should refund all customers’ hard-earned money. Media has unveiled the reality about their methods of operations, so public is not duped.”

On May 8, the BBC’s popular consumer program, Watchdog on The One Show, shone a national spotlight on the situation when it interviewed a series of customers who had bought treatments in advance only to find the clinic had shut down. They said they were either told they couldn’t get a refund or advised to go to the nearest clinic that was still operating, which was an hour away by transport.

It isn’t the first time Laser Clinics has found itself at the centre of controversy.