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Harrods Readies Three More H Beauty Stores in the U.K. as Sales Boom

Harrods has grasped an opportunity to open physical, stand-alone beauty stores in the U.K., where there is no equivalent of Sephora or Ulta.

LONDON — Harrods is hoping to beautify Britain — and fill a major market gap — with the opening of three further stand-alone H Beauty stores over the next 12 months in Edinburgh, Scotland, and in Bristol and Newcastle, England.

Harrods said the trio of openings were part of an “ambitious long-term strategic expansion” of H beauty, which has two stores outside London at the Lakeside mall in Essex, and at Centre: MK in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

The latest rollout will begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, with an opening at St. James Quarter, Edinburgh, one of the most important city center transformations currently underway in the U.K.

In early 2022, H beauty will open at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol, and later in the year at Newcastle’s Metrocentre. The latter will be home to H beauty’s largest store yet. The new openings will bring the U.K. H Beauty footprint to more than 127,000 square feet of retail space.

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The new stores will take their cues from the current ones, stocking a blend of established and new brands, and with some products sourced from local companies and manufacturers. There will also be interactive play tables, skincare stations, treatment areas and the H Beauty Champagne bar.

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Annalise Fard, director of home and beauty at Harrods, said the addition of three stores “is a hugely important and exciting milestone for Harrods as we continue with our ambitious plans to expand our domestic footprint through H Beauty.”

She added the response to the first two H Beauty store openings “not only reflects the ongoing demand for exceptional, high-quality retail experiences outside of London, but also the passion for beauty that exists amongst the customers we serve in these regions.”

Fard said that Harrods would continue to build “beauty communities” around each new city, “and employ beauty-lovers across each community to represent the H beauty brand.”

Harrods’ push into the beauty space has been ambitious: The store began by building a multiphase 90,000 square feet beauty hall in the Knightsbridge store in 2019. Last fall, it opened the first H Beauty unit in Lakeside, and followed that up a few months later with the Milton Keynes unit.

The retailer clearly believes there is opportunity to sell to beauty lovers via physical stores across the U.K., and to fulfill what it sees as a gap in “the diverse and expansive U.K. beauty sector.”

Unlike other European countries, or the U.S., the U.K. doesn’t have a Sephora or Ulta equivalent. Boots has long had a lock on the brick-and-mortar beauty market, especially outside London, but the offer can be uneven, and the retailer has only recently begun to refurbish its own, in-store beauty halls in cities and commercial centers.

In addition, the beauty treatments market is also fragmented, divided among sole operators on the high street, department stores and hotel spas.

By contrast, the online market in the U.K. is robust, with major players such as Feelunique, Lookfantastic and Cult Beauty. Online players, such as Next, Boohoo and Asos are also looking to make inroads in the beauty market which offers entry-level prices and high margins and complements those retailers’ fashion offers.

Harrods said the continued expansion of H Beauty “will not only breathe new life into existing retail space, but will also create several hundred important job opportunities across regional hubs throughout the U.K.”