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Shaanxi foot care chain makes int'l debut in Uzbekistan

By Qin Feng in Xi'an and Zhao Ruinan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-01 07:21
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Pedicurists from Shaanxi province provide foot care service to customers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in March. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Fan Lihua, a pedicurist from Shaanxi province, recently welcomed her first customer in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

"How's the water temperature?" In a Zheng Yunyun pedicure and foot massage store, Fan provided pedicure and foot massage services while communicating in simple English.

Zheng Yunyun Health Industry Development Co is a foot care chain that originated in Shaanxi in 1998. The company opened its first international branch in Tashkent with a 130-square-meter store that began its trial operation on March 28.

Four pedicurists from Ziyang have started working at the store. They received professional and foreign language training in Ziyang county, Shaanxi province's Ankang city.

According to Fan, eight customers visited the store during its trial operation and were delighted with the pedicurists' services and techniques.

One customer said, "I had my first pedicure in 32 years, and it felt amazing and comfortable. Initially, I was a bit nervous, but the more they worked, the more relaxed I felt. I am going to bring my friends here."

Another customer praised the pedicure technique from China as "excellent".

"They used sharp knives to remove all the calluses from my feet in a very short time, and the foot bath and massage were so relaxing," said a customer from Tashkent, who paid $30 for a 60-minute pedicure and foot bath.

Zheng Yuanbin, the CEO of Zheng Yunyun, said that the company has successfully opened over 300 stores throughout China, covering provinces and cities such as Shaanxi, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Zheng believes their recent expansion into Uzbekistan, a country involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, is a positive step for Ziyang county's pedicure and foot bath industry.

"This marks the acceleration of Shaanxi brands' internationalization. We plan to open more branches overseas and establish a chain operation model in the future," said the businessman.

Zheng Yuanyuan, another pedicure service company, also opened its foot care shops at the end of the last century.

As their business expanded, they established companies and opened branches nationwide. Zheng Yunyun Health Industry Development Co and Yuanyuan Group are now the two leading companies in foot massage in Shaanxi.

At the same time, the local government began promoting professional foot care worker training to address employment issues.

Ziyang county is well-known for its pedicure and foot care industry. In recent years, the county has focused on pedicure and foot care training as the primary way to boost its economy, improve the employment rate, and accelerate poverty alleviation.

In 2004, the county government allocated over 45 million yuan ($6.2 million) to establish training programs, making foot care an increasingly popular local industry for poverty alleviation.

From April 2014 to the end of 2017, Ziyang integrated various resources and conducted over 300 pedicure and foot therapy trainings. Over 25,000 trainees participated, and the post-training employment rate was over 70 percent.

More than 20,000 pedicurists from Ziyang found jobs in the industry, with a monthly salary exceeding 4,000 yuan.

The pedicure and foot massage industry is proliferating in China, with over 130 large-scale enterprises such as Zheng Yunyun and Zheng Yuanyuan, and Wushi Pedicure Health Services Group. Ziyang pedicurists operate more than 19,000 pedicure stores across China.

In 2019, United Nations agencies recognized the county's poverty alleviation model as one of the world's best cases of poverty reduction.

In 2020, Ziyang county officially completed poverty alleviation.

According to Jia Xueping, director of Ziyang county's labor training center, the poverty alleviation model works. Since 2014, more than 13,000 low-income households have received training, driving over 30,000 people out of poverty and forming a pedicure industry chain.

After the success of the Uzbekistan store, Ziyang county is now looking to expand further.

"We are targeting the overseas market, starting from Asian countries and then Europe and North America. We plan to bring our pedicurists to at least 15 countries in four years and open over 1,000 shops by 2030," Jia said.

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