Following the news that Sephora opened its first UK store in Westfield White City on Wednesday 8 March 2023, after its previous exit from UK physical locations in 2005, Sofie Willmott, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, offered her view:
“Sephora may have only announced the opening of a solitary store in the UK, but the potential threat to the incumbent beauty retail leaders is significant. GlobalData’s UK consumer survey shows that one third of UK shoppers aware of Sephora, would switch to the global beauty retailer for their health & beauty purchases with the main retailers they would turn away from being Superdrug and Boots,” she said.*
“However, the specialists are well prepared for Sephora’s re-entry to the UK market – market leader Boots has introduced beauty halls and upped its game with contemporary, in-demand brands and Superdrug has focused on low prices and the services it offers to satisfy its young shopper base. Sephora will need to continue to highlight its exclusive ranges and make events, like those taking place around the launch, a permanent fixture if it is to drive repeat visits and steal shoppers from the UK stalwarts in the long term.
“Sephora has chosen a challenging time to return to the UK with very little available shopper spend available for non-essential items and 65.4% of shoppers changing or intending to change their beauty shopping habits in response to rising prices**. In addition, Sephora’s younger shoppers are more likely to be altering the way they shop – 77.1% of 16-34s have changed or expect to change the way they shop for beauty products versus 60.2% of those aged 35 and over, with the most popular strategy being to buy fewer items or buy less often**.
“Furthermore, the third most popular word used to describe the LVMH-owned beauty retailer was ‘expensive’, behind ‘high quality’ and ‘modern’ with 40-50% of Sephora-aware consumers choosing one of these three words versus just 17% that selected ‘reasonably priced’*. Boots and Superdrug have worked hard to communicate entry-priced ranges, price freezes and member prices via loyalty schemes over the past year and Sephora will need to provide value for money to secure its position in the UK health & beauty market.”
*GlobalData’s UK monthly survey of 2,000 nationally representative consumers conducted in November 2022.
** GlobalData’s UK monthly survey of 2,000 nationally representative consumers conducted in February 2023.
Guillaume Motte is New Sephora CEO
Guillaume Motte is named as the new CEO of Sephora, parent company LVMH had said in a LinkedIn post. Motte, who spent five years in Sephora and its parent company LVMH, replaced Chris de Lapuente. Prior to this he was the CEO and president of Sephora’s Europe and Middle East division.
“His experiences over the past two years in LVMH Fashion Group, alongside Sidney Toledano, have broadened his brand building expertise and deepened his already extensive retail and business skills at a global level,” said De Lapuente, Sephora’s current CEO.
Motte has also worked as a consultant at McKinsey as well as operated as CEO of the Lifestyle retail division at Al Tayer. He was also CEO at Celio.
Motte joined Sephora at a time the beauty retailer was moving aggressively into Kohl’s stores. The company said in August 2022 that it would open shop-in-shops in all of Kohl’s locations, which total more than 1,100. The shop-in-shops take Sephora out of the mall and into more strip centers, which also means closer competition with rival Ulta.