Sylvie Moreau on Sephora's UK opening and its ambitions for the new market
On March 8, Sephora opened its first store in the United Kingdom, a 500-square-metre shop located in the heart of the Westfield London shopping centre in the British capital. This opening, which attracted 5,000 people, is the second step in the LVMH selective perfume chain's strategy to establish itself in the UK. Sephora's first steps in the region were initially digital, when in October 2022 Feelunique.com, one of the UK's leading online beauty retailers, acquired in September 2021 by Sephora, became Sephora.co.uk. This change officially marked the brand's return to a region that Sephora, which has 3,000 shops worldwide, had left in 2005, finding it hard to compete with local brands. Sylvie Moreau, Sephora's president for Europe and the Middle East, tells FashionNetwork.com about the brand's ambitions in the UK and beyond.
FashionNetwork: How did the opening of this first UK Sephora store go and what were your customers first reactions?
Sylvie Moreau: We are really pleased with the way this key step in our development is going. Some 5,000 people queued up for the opening of the shop. And since then, traffic has been growing, well above our expectations. In fact, on the first day, the new shop achieved the second highest sales in the world for Sephora, behind the Dubai Mall store. Since then, it has been in the top four worldwide. We are particularly proud that the top selling brand is our own brand Sephora Collection, which underlines our popularity among UK customers.
FNW: Why are you entering or re-entering the UK market now? And what are its particularities?
SM : First of all, it is a very dynamic prestige beauty market, one of the top ten in the world. It is also very digitalized, which is why we first established ourselves there via our e-shop. In addition, British consumers are keen on innovative products. And it's an inspiring market, which corresponds to our mindset of plural and diverse beauty.
In terms of timing, we have more elements of success than we did twenty years ago. Consumers are more than ever looking for exclusive brands and indie brands, which is Sephora's strength, whereas fifteen or twenty years ago, the market was driven by established brands. By entering the market first through the online channel, we were also able to wait until we had a significant amount of consumers to open our first physical store. Obviously, the acquisition of Feelunique, a British beauty expert, also helps us to better understand this market.
FNW: What are Sephora's ambitions in the UK market?
SM: The opening of this first shop is a second step in a larger expansion plan, but we are still working on it at the moment, so it's a bit premature to communicate on it. You know, the last country we entered was Germany, four years ago. Today, we have about ten shops there, so you see, we are not in a frantic rush to expand. We are growing in our existing markets first.
FNW: How is the selective beauty market in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region today? How did it cope with the health crisis?
SM: Two years after the health crisis, we can say that the prestige beauty market is back to its former glory, and that Sephora is growing faster than the market. In 2022, make-up has driven growth and has regained its number one position, ahead of perfume and skincare. We also want to strengthen our position in hair and body care. We are also working on new segments such as sexual wellness, which is part of a more global wellness trend, or home fragrance, reminiscent of the Covid effect. Segments that build value.
FNW: Precisely how do you build your local or global offer?
SM: We have a relatively harmonised European plan and are developing a model that works in all countries. So we build on common elements to move forward. I can tell you that 90% of our offer is common and 10% is represented by local brands.
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