A West London mall will become the first Sephora bricks-and-mortar location in the United Kingdom since 2005. The flagship store, in Westfield in White City, will be 6,000 square feet and is set to open in the spring.
Sephora says the store will elevate the company’s European view of the future. It will feature Sephora’s familiar black and white stripes design, ambient lighting, and greenery.
The store will be on the mall’s first floor near other beauty brands, including Boots, Lush, L’Occitane, Rituals, and Space N.K.
The company also plans to open stores in Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow later this year.
Merger with Feelunique.com
The beauty brand’s re-entry became possible after Sephora acquired U.K. prestige beauty e-tailer Feelunique.com for 132 million pounds. Feelunique.com has been in the market for 17 years and has more than one million U.K. customers, which provided a base from which Sephora can expand in the U.K. FeelUnique customers also have been able to transfer their loyalty points to Sephora.
Sephora merged Feelunique into its brand and uses intelligence gained through Feelunique’s market experience to help it build its U.K. offerings and launch its U.K. marketing strategy. Sephora rebranded the Feelunique website, launching Sephora.co.uk. in the fall. Sephora added 38 new brands to Feelunique’s products as part of the rebranding of Feelunique. It also launched a new app.
Sephora also began a marketing campaign, “Express All of You,” as part of its online market re-entry.” The campaign celebrates the uniqueness of each person’s beauty in the United Kingdom.
“We are so excited to be launching in the country with such a campaign and look forward to continue celebrating the U.K.’s unique tapestry of cultures and identities while always inspiring Brits to unleash their beauty power, said Steve Lesnard, the new global chief brand officer at Sephora.
“Our’ Express All of You’ campaign celebrates the truth that being British means being many different versions of oneself, the unfixed, undefinable, and uniquely experimental definitions of what beauty can be in the UK, Steve Lesnard said.
Two former Feelunique stores in Jersey and Guernsey will also become Sephora stores.
Steve Lesnard is a crucial force behind Sephora’s launch in the U.K. Lesnard, who previously was chief marketing officer of the North Face, recently joined the Sephora team. Originally from Corsica, he earned his MBA from the Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business in the United States. He’s traveled and worked all over the world, doing marketing for several global brands. He has led two Olympic marketing campaigns.
In his role at Sephora, he will also launch an omnichannel campaign for the brand, uniting the best online and in-person shopping to U.K. customers.
Lesnard and his team promoted the brand’s online launch with billboards, ads in tube stations and buses and taxis, TikTok partnerships and activations, and online videos. The team also created a 3D animation on the giant screen at Piccadilly Circus.
The team also hosted a pop-up event at One Marylebone to coincide with the launch of Sephora.co.uk. Guests such as Mario Dedivanovic, Maura Higgins, Ashley Roberts, and Neelam Gill attended the event. The event also included master makeup classes.
Among the brands that Sephora will add to the FeelUnique product line is Makeup by Mario and JVN Hair, a brand created by Jonathan Van Ness. JVN Hair has been a Sephora partner in the United States, Canada, and Australia but previously was exclusive to Space N.K. in the United Kingdom. Other exclusive brands are Tarte Cosmetics, ILIA Beauty, and ONE/SIZE by Patrick Starrr. Sephora also has its brand, the Sephora Collection, which includes body, skin, hair, and makeup products. The company says it will add more brands in the U.K. market soon.
The U.K. market is one of the world’s top 10 prestige beauty markets and is still growing, according to Steve Lesnard. It is a highly digital-savvy and very resilient market, he says.
Sephora’s main competitors in the U.K. market include Boots and Superdrug, both of which have several brick-and-mortar stores and various discount and loyalty programs.
Sephora’s U.K. History
Sephora had a long history of being in the U.K. before its departure in 2005. The LVMH-owned business owned ten stores in the U.K. in the early 2000s. The first stores to open were at the Bluewater shopping center in Kent.
However, by 2005, Sephora had closed these stores, citing fierce competition from its rivals. The company had been seeking a fresh approach to use to re-enter the U.K. market when the Freeunique acquisition opportunity occurred.
Sephora’s very first store launched in Paris in August 1970. French perfumer Dominique Mandonnaud bought the store in 1993, merged it with his perfume brand, and expanded Sephora’s global presence. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) acquired Sephora in 1997. The company’s global headquarters is in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.
Sephora’s re-entry into the U.K. came after more than six years of speculation. Sephora believes it will succeed in the U.K. market this time for several reasons. The first is that it starts with a large base of customers and knowledge from Freeunique. The second is that the beauty market is more crowded than it was 20 years ago; the competitors that drove Sephora away are no longer as dominant in the industry as they were.
According to Forbes, Sephora can also use its reputation as an innovative retailer to create something fresh for British customers. It is also approaching the market with a new point of view from Steve Lesnard. Lesnard has more than 20 years of experience in managing global brands. In addition to other innovations, he’s leading Sephora to a more sustainable philosophy, consuming less energy and being transparent about product ingredients.
According to Forbes, the timing for Sephora’s innovation also may be perfect because many department stores are disappearing in the U.K., taking with them their ground-floor beauty halls. Sephora can offer a premium beauty hall experience. Boots and Superdrug have non-premium spaces.