Sephora unveil plans for UK market: EXCLUSIVE – WWD

PARIS — Sephora has revealed details of the first phase of its re-entry into the UK market.

“After many rumours, Sephora is finally coming to the UK,” said Sylvie Moreau, the retailer’s president for Europe and the Middle East.

On October 17th, Feelunique.com, which Sephora acquired a year ago, will transition to sephora.co.uk. That will include all of the associated codes, including the beauty retailer’s signature black and white stripes. The site will also work with Sephora’s application in the UK.

Beauty brands available on the platform include numerous exclusive products for the country, including Tarte Cosmetics, Ilia, Makeup by Mario, One/Size by Patrick Starrr, Gxve by Gwen Stefani, Skinflix and Vegamour, as well as Sephora’s own-brand line.

Premium beauty brands on offer include Pat McGrath Labs, Fenty Beauty, Gisou, Rose Inc, JVN and Glow Recipe, among others.

In phase two, a Sephora brick-and-mortar store is slated to open in the UK in March 2023 at an undisclosed location in London.

This news confirms a report published by WWD on August 23.

“At Sephora, we innovate every day to build the most loved beauty community. We are excited to bring Sephora to the UK in response to strong UK demand for our unique prestige beauty experience,” said Chris de Lapuente, Sephora’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “UK customers are encouraged to explore and discover the best versions of themselves as we support them on their beauty journey with a fantastic selection of tried-and-true classics and new indie brands.

“We will offer UK consumers a groundbreaking range of beauty products that are best-in-class for innovation, diversity and inclusion,” he continued. “The UK is home to a dynamic beauty and wellness market that Sephora aims to surprise and delight with our brand expertise and creativity. Our passionate team can’t wait to serve and inspire UK consumers under the Sephora brand.”

It’s not for the faint of heart taking on the UK, Moreau said during a press conference held primarily for UK journalists at the retailer’s headquarters in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a Paris suburb, in early September.

“We come to Britain very humbled,” she said. “It has one of the most dedicated and experienced consumers. It’s a big battlefield.”

This isn’t Sephora’s first foray into the UK. The retailer opened its first store there in 2000 in the Bluewater shopping center in Kent and then opened a total of nine doors. In 2005, these all shut down, failing to compete amid intense competition from Boots and others.

But the beauty landscape has since changed, and so has Sephora’s muscle.

“Precisely because Sephora is a brand itself, we could be successful on different continents,” said Moreau, who emphasized that last year Sephora was the only multi-brand retailer to make it into the top 100 ranking of the best global brands for 2021 that was put together by Interbrand.

“The second strategic choice is that we believe in business,” she continued, adding that it makes the biggest difference. “The store is our social hub.”

In 2021, Sephora opened more than 300 stores in Kohl’s, mostly in China, the Middle East and the United States.

“They will always be the purest expression of our brand,” said Moreau of Brick-and-Mortar, adding, “Obviously, we’ve been into e-commerce since 1999.”

And this digital drive continues to grow. For example, in June 2021, Sephora and Zalando announced that they had signed a long-term strategic partnership to create a prestige beauty experience online, starting in Germany.

“Basically, our strategic choice is omnichannel excellence,” Moreau continued, adding that the key is to combine the best of both worlds — brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.

Sephora has more than 5 million combined daily visits to its stores and websites, and 165 million consumers have a Sephora loyalty card.

“So it’s like the entire population of France, Britain and Canada combined,” Moreau said. “We are strongly connected to this community.”

In total, Sephora is represented in 36 countries with around 3,000 points of sale. The retailer employs 36,000 people, including 25,000 beauty consultants.

Moreau said the Sephora and Feelunique teams created a strategic plan together.

The idea behind Sephora’s acquisition of Feelunique was not to start from scratch in the UK, where the platform already has a reach of 1.3 million customers and is successfully serving them, Moreau said.

Feelunique ships around 80,000 products daily.

Combined, such elements “make our chances of success in the UK much higher,” she said. “[Feelunique] has great experience in guiding beauty [there].”

Moreau described the Feelunique team as “like-minded people”.

“Merger and acquisition culture is a key success factor and we could feel it from day one,” she said.

The launch of sephora.co.uk has been planned for the all-important end-of-year holiday season and, according to Moreau, aims to send the message that Sephora is there for all UK consumers.

“It will be very similar in look and feel to the Sephora Europe sites,” she said. “But Feelunique has wonderful digital capabilities and proprietary tricks, so we actually rescaled their backbone. And this is an example of the best of both worlds.”

Feelunique’s loyalty program will also be rebranded to Sephora.

To celebrate Sephora’s arrival in the UK, the retailer will be hosting a stunning prestige beauty event on October 20th at One Marylebone London. It will include a brand fair, masterclasses, beauty talks and surprise guests, according to the retailer. Tickets go on sale from October 11th, with details to follow on the Sephora UK Instagram account.

Moreau said after the store opened in London, Sephora, “over the years, gradually, surely, steadily, but also prudently, [will] extend [its] wings in Great Britain”

https://wwd.com/beauty-industry-news/beauty-features/sephora-unveils-plans-uk-1235381076/ Sephora unveil plans for UK market: EXCLUSIVE – WWD

Sarah Y. Kim

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