Can Sephora crack the UK this time round?

Sephora's returning to the UK - how will the US Beauty giant fare over the pond as it looks to re-enter the market at a time when consumers are more cash-strapped than ever?
Will Sephora manage to stand out between the pre-present splendor players or will it blend in?

The world of social media was alight last week when US natural beauty giant Sephora revealed it would be returning to the British isles 15 a long time just after it closed all its stores right here.

Sephora, which bought Feelunique previous calendar year for £135m, reported it would change the web page of its acquisition to kingdom next week and has set its sights on opening a London flagship retail outlet in Spring 2023 to the delight of British isles attractiveness supporters.

For the manufacturer may well have not traded below for almost two many years, but youthful buyers are extremely conscious of the Sephora, which Glamour journal termed “the world’s most-cherished magnificence store”.

The retailer is leading of quite a few a twentysomethings must-pay a visit to checklist even though on vacation anyplace from Paris to New York to Dubai.

Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, main government at natural beauty PR experts Tishtash. says: “As a world-wide icon in the beauty retail sector, it often felt odd that Sephora no extended had a British isles presence.

“In the US and the Center East, it feels like every single next store.”

Sephora chairman and chief govt Chris de Lapuente says it is responding to “Britain’s robust need for our distinctive status magnificence experience” and claims “a pioneering choice of beauty” that involves “time-analyzed classics and new indie brands”.

“The United kingdom is household to a dynamic elegance and wellbeing sector that Sephora will aim to shock and delight by way of our trademark know how and creativeness. Our passionate group simply cannot wait to provide and inspire Uk shoppers under the Sephora manufacturer,” claims de Lapuente.

Sephora UK launch
Sephora is promising United kingdom purchasers a pioneering collection of beauty

It’s no shock the United kingdom is on Sephora’s radar suitable now.

Consultancy Retail Economics claims beauty is set to be 1 of the strongest-accomplishing retail sectors in 2022, with product sales on observe to grow 7.6% in 2022, climbing over pre-pandemic concentrations. And there is a huge hole in the market place pursuing Debenhams’ collapse in 2020.

Hatherall-Shawe claims that Sephora’s brand recognition is high among young customers and she thinks Sephora’s toughness in digital and influencer marketing and advertising prowess will charm to British isles buyers.

“There is a distinct hole in the market for a ‘digi-first’ elegance retailer that utilises celeb and influencer collaborations, consumer generated content material and ‘moves fast’ with its manufacturers and merchandise – Sephora will fill that gap,” she suggests.


A challenging time to launch

Even so, Sephora’s accomplishment in the Uk is not a presented as its shorter-lived stint in the region at the turn of the millenium shows. The French splendor giant lasted just 5 yrs prior to it shut all six of its British isles stores in 2005.

GlobalData sector head for health and magnificence Sofie Willmott details out that Sephora has decided on a hard time to re-enter the British isles current market.

To start with, the United kingdom is in the midst of the most important charge-of-dwelling crisis for quite a few many years, which is impacting discretionary commit across the board.

Even though the wellbeing and splendor marketplace will be more guarded than other sectors offered the vital character of some products and the simple fact that other things are seen as significantly-required treats suitable now, Willmott suggests it is nonetheless “a challenging time to try and persuade purchasers to section with their money”.

The point that Boots and Superdrug are focusing their internet marketing initiatives and expense on price freezes, and value ranges illustrates this.

Meanwhile, other splendor stores have “stepped up in the latest years”, according to Willmott, as they vie to steal the share the moment held by Debenhams.

Willmott says that marketplace leader Boots has improved its attractiveness proposition by introducing a sturdy assortment of in-demand from customers models this sort of as Fenty Beauty, Drunk Elephant and Huda Elegance, and has rolled out in-retailer attractiveness halls “which have a far more quality come to feel, equivalent to that of a office store”.

Boots has introduced beauty halls into stores
Boots has launched splendor halls into retailers

Meanwhile, suppliers together with Harrods, Upcoming and Flannels are opening stand-alone natural beauty formats to choose a higher slice of the industry, and new on the net players this sort of as Attractiveness Pie, Glimpse Superb and Cult Attractiveness are vying to get share.

Wilmott also highlights that lots of magnificence brand names have concentrated on building their have ecommerce businesses catalysed by the online desire all through the pandemic.

What will make Sephora particular

In purchase to be thriving in the crowded United kingdom attractiveness industry, Sephora will have to carve out a niche and give Uk customers a place of big difference, states Wilmott.

“That may well imply supplying manufacturers that are not commonly offered in the United kingdom, excellent provider both of those in-store and on the internet from attractiveness experts and ordeals in keep that attractiveness buyers are unable to get elsewhere,” she states.

Sephora unquestionably claims to give customers just that. The retailer will deliver cult brands such as Tarte, Make-up by Mario, Pat McGrath Labs, and One particular Measurement to the United kingdom. There is also its considerably-coveted very own-brand name Sephora Collection.

Hatherall-Shawe believes consumers will flock to its site and suppliers to get their hands on such products.

In terms of browsing ordeals, Sephora has well balanced its sturdy electronic concentration with experiential shops.

Current retail outlet openings have included interactive mirrors the place customers can almost check out on make-up employing augmented actuality and in-store magnificence classes. The retailer even has its have social media platform, the Attractiveness Insider Local community, which has additional than five million associates.

Electronic will be an crucial component of Sephora’s British isles progress

Even though a physical presence is noticed as an location exactly where Sephora can differentiate from the swathe of on the web pureplays, Hatherall-Shawe believes a regarded as keep roll-out is the way to go for retailer.

With the natural beauty big blaming soaring rents and prices for its 2005 Uk exit, that is probable to be the method it will just take.

“High Streets are not what they have been, nonetheless destination and experiential procuring is on the rise,” suggests Hatherall-Shawe. “It’s all about the brand for Sephora. I do not believe that a deficiency of bodily destinations will be a barrier to marketplace accomplishment, rather the opposite.”

“The important will be on developing digital demand from customers, a contemporary and straightforward person practical experience, doubling down on loyalty amongst their ecommerce purchasers, and keeping entrance and centre with special models and collaborations, and they will be just good.”

The Uk magnificence market place may be crowded but there is always room for a participant that features some thing refreshing, new and remarkable. And with just a week right until isles goes live, enjoyment degrees are increasing.

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