LONDON — Is Sephora planning a return to the U.K. high street?
According to press reports, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned perfumery has been in talks with Marks & Spencer with an eye to opening Sephora shop-in-shops.
If that happens, it would mark Sephora's return to the U.K. after it shuttered its nine perfumeries there in 2005.
Marks & Spencer and Sephora have reportedly discussed opening 10 Sephora spaces to be followed by 100 more if the concept proves successful.
A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer declined Friday to confirm the retailer is in discussions with Sephora. "We talk to people all the time," she said. "It's nothing to get excited about."
A Sephora spokeswoman, also contacted Friday, declined to comment.
Should such a deal go ahead, it wouldn't be the first shop-in-shop arrangement for Sephora. The retailer struck a deal in 2006 with J.C. Penney to open branded Sephora shops in the U.S. department stores. Those spaces carry brands such as Benefit, Bare Escentuals and N.V. Perricone, as well as Sephora's private label products.
For Marks & Spencer, which carries an extensive range of private label clothing, food and furniture and has more than 600 stores in the U.K., a partnership with Sephora could offer an opportunity to bolster its position in the toiletries and cosmetics arena.
"It could be a profitable marriage of convenience," said George Wallace, chief executive officer of London-based MHE Retail consultancy. "Marks & Spencer's offer in health, beauty and cosmetics is pretty feeble," he added, noting the retailer could profit from Sephora's beauty expertise.
Wallace said he'd expect Marks & Spencer to focus on Sephora's private label products, since its price positioning would suit the Marks & Spencer customer.
Sephora faced intense competition from department stores and high-end beauty retailers, such as Space NK, during its first foray into the U.K., according to industry watchers. Alliance Boots, owner of the Boots the Chemist's pharmacy chain, is also a formidable player in the market.
"If [Sephora] can get wide distribution without massive capital expenditure, it makes commercial sense," said Wallace.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
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