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EXCLUSIVE: Sephora’s First New U.K. Store to Open in West London

Its first British store since 2005 will open its doors in March.

Sephora is planting its flag in London’s Westfield shopping center as it makes its brick-and-mortar return to the U.K.

Confirming a previous report by WWD, Sephora, part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said it will open its first location in the U.K. since 2005 in the White City-located mall in West London in March.

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.

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

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Of its return to the U.K., Sarah Boyd, the new managing director of Sephora U.K., told WWD she believes the U.K. is home to the “the most exciting dynamic beauty lover in the world.”

“It’s a really exciting place to work in beauty and to think about beauty and to look at the fashion. It’s also a very big market,” she said. “The timing has been a question of really finding the right way to enter the market and when we purchased Feelunique just over a year ago now, that was the perfect time to be able to come back in.”

As for this specific retail location, she added that while there are lots of other locations that Sephora is considering for the future, Westfield London is “that perfect environment where you’ve got the mix between mass market and luxury.”

“It’s the right mix of experiential and [food and beverage], as well as shopping. You can imagine going and spending a whole day there,” she noted, adding that it has some really great flagships. “It really felt like the right place to start.”

Katie Wyle, general manager at Westfield London, said Sephora has been one of the most requested stores by customers. “The launch of their store marks the growth of our beauty offer and will be a landmark moment for beauty fans.”

The store will span 600 square meters and be wrapped in Sephora’s iconic black-and-white stripes, while the interior, the first of its kind in the world, will offer double-height ceilings, soft geometric shapes, ambient lighting, textured finishes and greenery.

Other features include self-checkout, a central beauty hub, wrapping stations and a space for services such as skin diagnostics, makeup and a Benefit Brow Bar. Services like Hydrafacial, present in many U.S. Sephora locations, are under consideration, Boyd confirmed.

Launching with 135 brands, it will also give U.K. shoppers exclusive access to brands such as Gxve by Gwen Stefani, Vegamour, Skinfix, Commodity, JVN, One/Size by Patrick Starrr, Refy, Danessa Myricks, Kosas, Makeup by Mario, Sunday Riley, Glow Recipe, Tarte, as well as Sephora’s own Sephora Collection.

In addition, there will be a large assortment of premium brands, including Sisley, Gucci Makeup, Tom Ford and Dior, and Sephora will also have its loyalty program in London, although it is a little different from other markets.

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. But in 2005, they were shuttered, unable to break through amid intense competition from Boots and others.

However, in 2021, 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 has been rebranded as sephora.co.uk. Feelunique shipped about 80,000 products per day.

“It’s precisely that Sephora is a brand itself that we could succeed in different continents,” Sylvie Moreau, the retailer’s president of Europe and the Middle East said in October, noting that Sephora was the only multibrand retailer to make the top 100 ranking of best global brands for 2021, compiled by Interbrand.

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

As for what’s next, Boyd remained tight-lipped about if there would be additional stores opening this year and where they could be.

“It’s too soon to talk about the future because we need to see what happens here first,” she said. “We are planning for more stores, but timelines are a bit vague at the moment. We’re looking at locations, talking to landlords, but fundamentally we want to understand what happens when we open our first store.”

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WWD understands that Sephora had viewed space at the shopping mall on the site of the former Battersea Power Station in south London.

On whether Sephora could expand outside of London across the U.K., Boyd said: “I wouldn’t be drawn on that one yet….We’re doing our network planning review right now.”