Shopping Centers Today International

JAN 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Sephora B eauty trailblazer Sephora has become a powerful force in 31 countries, thanks to its nimbleness, its novel marketing initiatives and its creative adaptation to technol- ogy and local culture, say retail experts. The French chain, founded in 1969 and owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has grown to some 1,900 stores worldwide, about 900 more than five years ago. "Sephora is willing to change the look and feel of a store, depending on the region, and change the focus of products and brands to fit local consumers," said Sarah Jindal, a beauty- and-personal-care analyst at Mintel, a London-based market research firm. Moreover, the touch-and-feel environment and the generous beauty advice dispensed there have universal ap- peal, she says. "Western brands are regarded highly around the globe, and the expansion of Sephora into those markets where the brands haven't been is another key to its international suc- cess," Jindal said. The retailer operates about 100 stores in China and some 400 across 11 countries in Europe. Its Champs-Élysées flag- ship, in Paris, receives about 6 million visitors annually, more than the Eiffel Tower. Next on Sephora's agenda is Iran, where it hopes to open a half dozen stores as one of the first major re- tailers to invest directly in a country just starting to emerge from years of international sanctions. Sephora sells luxury-brand fragrances, cosmetics, and hair- and skin-care products from as many as 200 brands, including Dior, Ojon and Philosophy, plus its own col- lections. A typical Sephora shop carries some 7,000 stock- keeping units. Sephora opened its first U.S. shop in 1998, in New York City's SoHo neighborhood, and eventually blos- somed to the current 780 count. Though its goal was to edge out department stores as the makeup counter of choice, its partnership with one such store actually helped drive its U.S. growth. From 2006 Sephora began opening limited-assortment store-within-a-store units inside JCPen- ney stores, reasoning that this would attract new business rather than steal customers from existing full-line stores, ac- cording to David Zoba, global retail leasing board chairman at JLL. "That really helped them create brand identifica- tion," Zoba said. Today there are 500 roughly 1,500-square- foot Penney Sephoras across the U.S. The regular Sephora shops measure about 5,500 square feet. One big challenge for beauty-products retailers in par- ticular is balancing the actual with the virtual, says Jindal. "Sephora is one of the few retailers that's managed to do that in a seamless, organic way." Sephora was one of the first to use "magic mirrors" that enable customers to see how they would appear wearing any shade Sephora offers. Sephora also has smartphone apps, including one with a virtual store and another that uses shading and highlight- ing primers tailored to a user's selfie. J a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 / S C T 31 P h o t o : K i m b e r l y W h i t e / G e t t y i m a G e s f o r s e P h o r a )

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