After a bumpy online launch last October, Sephora is hitting its stride, re-entering the UK market and raising the bar for brick-and-mortar beauty retail. After opening the 6,000-square-foot unit at Westfield White City in West London in March, the LVMH-owned retailer will open store number two in Westfield Stratford City in East London in November.
Sephora said in a statement, “The launch of Sephora.co.uk and the app last autumn was met with unprecedented demand, and British consumers can continue to enjoy shopping their beauty favorites exclusively at Sephora in another iconic store.”
Sephora pulled out all the stops with the brick-and-mortar launch, unveiling a new store design with biophilic-inspired design elements like double-height ceilings, tall green plants, and fixtures with soft edges and textured finishes. The assortment consists of 135 brands, many of which are exclusive launches or available for the first time in brick-and-mortar retail in the UK. The exclusive curation is further reinforced with curated merchandise areas, education, immersive experiences, and services.
Speaking at the World Retail Congress earlier this year, Christopher de Lapuente, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Selective Retailing Division of LVMH, revealed the Westfield White City store performed over 300% better than expected, and shared, “The opening day we had 5,000 people queuing outside the store. I was there, and some people started queuing at midnight, and there were no sales. It was 5,000 people wanting to enjoy the Sephora experience and it’s the power of the brand. They came to discover Sephora, the products, the assortment, which is part of the magic.”
The UK beauty market is the sixth largest in the world according to Euromonitor, behind Germany but ahead of France—clocking in at an estimated $29.88 billion in 2022 and projected to reach $40.5 billion by 2027—growing at a CAGR of 6.27%. According to Mintel, 57% of UK adults purchase premium beauty products in-store, but the British beauty retail landscape is fiercely competitive and fragmented, especially once you leave central London.
So far, Sephora seems to be on its way to capturing a meaningful piece of the UK beauty market, but domestic beauty retailers like Boots, Space NK, and Superdrug have all upped their game. This competition has created a dynamic offline, creating opportunities for brands and excitement for UK consumers.
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