Max India’s Antara Senior Living will focus on the National Capital Region (NCR) in the next two-three years as it aims to become an all-round platform for products and services for seniors, says Antara's executive chairman Tara Singh Vachani.
Established in 2013, Antara runs a residential community for seniors in Dehradun, and it launched its second similar project in Noida last year. The company says it has started the sales and construction at the Noida project, which will eventually have about 500 apartments. Designed for older people, these residential properties provide healthcare facilities, wellness plans, and emergency response teams for senior residents. She says the company aims to have two more residential properties in the next five years, one of which will be in NCR. “The potential within India, the potential within NCR is huge,” Vachani tells Fortune India. She says the idea behind Antara is to allow seniors to age in place, where they can find like-minded people, activities, and support as they get older.
“There were very few offerings for the ageing population and whatever existed was fragmented and disorganised; the huge gap in itself was validation that something needed to be done,” she says.
According to a report by the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) released earlier this year, the number of people above the age of 60 in India will reach 319 million in 2050. According to the 2011 census, this population accounted for 8.6% of the total, or 103 million elderly people. The report also says that 75% of the elderly people suffer from one or the other chronic disease, 40% have at least one disability, while 20% suffer from mental health related issues.
Vachani, who is Max Group founder Analjit Singh’s daughter, says that the pandemic pushed the demand for their residential vertical. “People realised during the lockdown that they were under-invested in their living ecosystems...the sales momentum and velocity we saw in Antara Noida was probably a reaction of people realizing they wanted to upgrade their quality of life,” she says.
The assisted living and retirement homes sector is still in its nascent stage in India, where traditional family structures mean that older people continue to live with their families, and children are expected to take care of them. That may be changing as the older demographic grows and more seniors start looking for options to live independently in a peer environment. The segment has been attracting investments. Last October, real estate developer Embassy Group partnered with assisted living community operator Columbia Pacific Communities to launch senior-living projects with an investment of ₹1,000 crore.
“In any urban city in India, if you were to dissect and bisect how many people over 55-60 have a certain income bracket, living by themselves, it is a very large number. And that's the audience we were targeting,” says Vachani. She says, as of now, an Antara consumer is an urban, high-net-worth individual (HNI) who is ageing.
Antara is also betting on its assisted care services including ‘Care Homes’ and ‘Care at Home’, which cater to seniors over the age of 55-60 who need assisted care due to medical or age-related issues. Last year, the company said it planned to invest over ₹300 crore in the next three-four years across these verticals, including residences for seniors.
Vachani says the Care Homes vertical is for older people who need full time care and don’t have the ability to manage it at home; they offer both short and long-term care. Whereas Care at Home is for seniors who don’t want to move out of their home; it offers services like nursing, home diagnostics, phlebotomy, and physiotherapy.
“Care Homes is going to be the next interesting challenge for us to see how comfortable people are with their parents being in an environment that is medically oriented as you get older,” says Vachani adding that Covid has boosted demand for these facilities. “We are yet to see the fulfillment of that demand. But we are very convinced that India is changing, mindsets are changing, and demand is no longer a question mark.”
The company will set up about 35-40 such homes with an asset light model in the next three years. About 10 of these will specialise in memory care (specialised facilities for people with memory issues).
“We see the potential of the Care Homes and Care at Home verticals from a revenue, EBITDA, return perspective, catching up very quickly if not supersede [the residential vertical] because it's an asset light model, it is very easy to scale it up in terms of execution,” says Vachani.
Last year, the company launched Care Homes in Delhi, Gurgaon, and in Dehradun as an ancillary to its residences. “After about 30 months from today, when Care Homes will expand, Care at Home will piggyback off that service. It is unlikely we will take Care at Home to a city and not take Care Homes there or vice versa. It is extremely synergistic in terms of manpower, technology, efficiencies, operations,” says Vachani.
Antara also plans to sell medical equipment and products like wheelchairs under a new MedCare brand. The company opened their first showroom in Gurgaon this year. Vachani says it will eventually be available online and also have their own branded range of products.
“The residences vertical is fulfilling potentially an aspiration and a desire and a want of a quality of life, but Care Homes and Care at Home and MedCare products are straight going in and plugging a very obvious need that that exists,” she says.