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London Calling: Sephora Gearing Up to Open in British Capital, Sources Said

Last year, it acquired British online prestige beauty retailer Feelunique in a deal valued at 132 million pounds.

For years, British shoppers’ main beauty offerings could be found at Boots, Superdrug, Space NK and a handful of department store chains. But soon there will be another — and familiar to some — contender in town.

After years of speculation, Sephora is finally gearing up to reenter the market, starting in London, multiple sources told WWD. The first store is likely to open some time in the first quarter of 2023, with others to follow suit.

While Sephora, part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, declined to comment, sources said one of the stores is likely to land in the Westfield shopping center in White City in West London.

The area has gone through a transformation in recent years, with the nearby former BBC Television Center turned into a swanky SoHo House complete with a rooftop pool.

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Other tenants at Westfield include Apple, Coach, Gucci, Boots, Jimmy Choo, Kiehl’s and Mulberry.

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Another source told WWD that a store is also likely to appear in the yet unopened shopping mall on the site of the former Battersea Power Station in south London, but a source close to Sephora said this was untrue.

This isn’t Sephora’s first foray into the U.K. The retailer opened its first store there in 2000 in Bluewater shopping center in Kent, opening nine doors overall. In 2005, they were shuttered, unable to break through amid intense competition from Boots and others.

However, last year, Sephora, founded in France by Dominique Mandonnaud in 1970, made its first step into reentering Britain, acquiring the online prestige beauty retailer Feelunique in a deal valued at 132 million pounds. That will be rebranded as sephora.com.

There’s much to play for in the British beauty market. According to Euromonitor, it’s the second largest European beauty market after Germany and is in the top 10 worldwide.

Euromonitor forecasts revenues in the British beauty market are set to hit $17.32 billion in 2022, with annual growth expected to be 4.1 percent each year until 2026.

But while Sephora is moving to London, others are exiting. As previously reported, the Estée Lauder Cos. recently revealed it was pulling two brands — Smashbox and Glamglow — out of the market, with sales having been “impacted by changes in the brand’s retail space and location, combined with competitive challenges.” Over the course of the pandemic, Lauder has scaled back or closed multiple brands, including Deciem, which narrowed its brand assortment, and Becca and Rodin Olio Lusso, which were both shut down.