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Massage chain continues aggressive expansion in N.J.

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Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa locations are popping up all over New Jersey. Since the company was formed in 2005, it has grown to 100 locations in 18 states and Canada, with 25 of those spas in New Jersey. The company said three locations have opened in New Jersey since the start of 2013, and seven to 10 more are slated to open by year’s end.

“The fact that we have had year-over-year growth in sales and membership base is gratifying for us at a time when other businesses are struggling for sales,” CEO Todd Leff said. “Our most successful locations are in New Jersey due to the right demographic. We have great support from our customer base here.”

The company employs a clustered approach to growth, saturating a market with multiple locations, along with radio and television advertising, before moving on to the next market. With executives confident South Jersey is nearly covered, the company is now focusing on moving northward.

Most locations are franchised; only the initial spa in Toms River and a second across from the company’s Hamilton headquarters are not. Last year, Hand & Stone signed 56 new franchise agreements and opened 31 locations, bringing in $55 million in sales and employing 2,500 people. The company, which plans to open 44 new locations this year in the United States and five in Canada, experienced a sales increase of more than 30 percent between 2011 and 2012.

Leff credits the company’s success to the affordability and convenience of its services. Most of its spas are located in retail shopping centers, many of which are anchored by grocery stores that can attract customers who may never have treated themselves to a massage or facial. Hours can range from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and pricing for a one-hour massage starts at $50.

“Our whole concept is based on affordability and convenience,” Leff said. “People might not be able to afford a vacation, but they can spend $50 for a massage or facial and have a respite once a month.”

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