LVMH-owned Sephora announced the acquisition of Feelunique back in July 2021, taking on its 35,000-strong product cosmetic and fragrance portfolio and 1.3 million active customers. The acquisition was set to be activated this week as Sephora absorbed Feelunique’s UK website and domain, bringing with it a new set of exclusive brands such as Tarte, ILIA Beauty and Makeup by Mario, along with its own Sephora collection. The UK Sephora website would also be twinned with the beauty retailer’s app.
Chris de Lapuente, chairman and CEO of Sephora, said: “We are delighted to bring Sephora to the UK, responding to Britain’s strong demand for our unique prestige beauty experience (…) The UK is home to a dynamic beauty and wellbeing market that Sephora will aim to surprise and delight through our trademark know-how and creativity.”
Capturing UK’s younger online beauty consumers
Nick Carroll, associate director of grocery and e-commerce research at Mintel, said last year that the acquisition was “well-timed” for Sephora given online beauty sales were “rapidly growing” in the UK, with Feelunique “at the forefront” of the rush.
According to Mintel data, sales across specialist beauty online retailers grew by over 40% in 2020 to reach €1.64bn (£1.4bn), and 4% of beauty and personal care buyers purchased products via Feelunique – putting the business on a par with the likes of Lush.
Marguerite LeRolland, senior research manager for apparel and footwear at Euromonitor International, agreed and said Sephora’s acquisition of Feelunique, alongside its 2021 partnership with German online fashion retailer Zalando, clearly signalled a desire to engage with younger online beauty consumers – an increasingly important target market after COVID-19.
“By striking a partnership with Zalando and acquiring Feelunique, Sephora ensures they are using seamless technology and increasing their ability to offer different shopping experiences catering for the different tastes and demands of the young British consumers,” LeRolland previously told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Sephora stores of the future
Part of Sephora’s UK return would also see the retailer open a flagship London store in Spring 2023, 17 years after exiting and shutting its six UK stores in May 2005. And whilst details on the flagship store had not yet been released, the beauty retail major had made its vision of brick and mortar potential clear last month.
On September 23, 2022, Sephora unveiled its first digital-forward ‘store of the future’ in Singapore, soon to be followed by a similar space in Shanghai early next year, demonstrating the company’s future vision for beauty retail.
The 426-square metre space had been designed for an “experiential shopping journey”, incorporating tech and digital touchpoints into a highly curated assortment of products, brands and services. The store had been designed to offer fully mobile checkout process and a services space for facials, makeovers and hair styling as well as educational tutorials. Alia Gogi, president of Sephora Asia, said: “This store is the perfect intersection of innovative and experiential elements where our customers can immerse and transform themselves in the absolute best of global beauty brands through a hyper-personalised retail approach.”
Speaking exclusively to CosmeticsDesign-Europe during our global Beauty 4.0 – Tech, Tools and Future Trends webinar in the same month, Gogi said the store concept had taken several years to finalise and would likely form a foundation for how Sephora looked to expand its retail footprint elsewhere in the world moving forward. The full conversation can still be watched on-demand HERE.
Adding to this, she told sister site CosmeticsDesign-Asia: “We’re going to learn, iterate, tweak, and get it better as we roll out this concept in other stores.”