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Ulta Beauty to Open 40 Stores in 2021, Reintroduce Testers

The company also unveiled that Dave Kimbell will become its next CEO.

Ulta Beauty, which just unveiled a chief executive officer transition, is planning to open more stores in 2021, and reintroduce beauty testers.

“We plan to continue to expand and refresh our store fleet, including opening approximately 40 net new stores this year,” said Ulta Beauty president Dave Kimbell on the company’s earnings call Thursday evening, after news of his appointment to CEO had been made public.

Ulta plans to “safely reintroduce testers” this year, and is looking to develop new sampling programs, he said.

In addition to bringing testers back, Ulta is planning to implement layout changes in stores, and further train staff on key categories, including skin care. Ulta will focus on “meeting guests wherever they want to shop,” Kimbell said, and will continue building out capabilities to meet the demands of store and online shopping. He said Ulta also plans to evolve personalization for guests, build out its supply chain for increased flexibility and launch Ulta Beauty at Target this fall.

Over the course of the pandemic, Ulta’s loyalty program membership declined by 10 percent, which executives attributed to some customers shopping less during the coronavirus pandemic. Executives said they expect improvements in brick-and-mortar sales this year.

“We begin 2021 with a strong foundation from which we can accelerate our growth and shape how guests experience beauty in the post-COVID[-19] environment,” Kimbell said.

For the year ended Jan. 30, Ulta’s sales dipped 16.8 percent, to $6.2 billion, largely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Net income was $171.5 million, a nearly 22 percent dip from the previous year’s $219.5 million.

For the quarter ended Jan. 30, Ulta’s net sales dipped 4.6 percent year-over-year to $2.2 billion, compared with $2.3 billion the prior year. Net income was $171.5 million, a nearly 22 percent dip from the previous year’s $219.5 million.

Dillon said Ulta’s results were better than expected, and showed improving trends in consumer demand in the most recent quarter.

“Fiscal 2020 was a difficult year, and I am proud of how our teams navigated the unprecedented challenges with agility and purpose,” Dillon said. “We begin fiscal 2021 with a strong foundation in place and good operational momentum. We are strategically investing in our business to drive further market share gains, and, as separately announced today, we are beginning to execute a thoughtful succession plan that ensures we continue to benefit from strong, experienced leadership for the next chapter of growth.

“We are encouraged by the momentum we are seeing in store traffic trends,” Dillon said. “Although our visibility as to when demand will fully recover is limited, we are confident our business will continue to strengthen in fiscal 2021, as COVID-19 vaccines become more accessible.”

For more from WWD.com, see: 

Dave Kimbell to Become CEO of Ulta Beauty

Inside Ulta Beauty’s New NYC Herald Square Store