Sephora preps for record-setting store expansion

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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sephora interior

A specialty beauty powerhouse will open the most North American stores in a single year in its history.

Sephora will open 100 new store locations across North America in 2020, more than it has opened on the continent in any prior year and more than double the number of openings from 2019. The stores will be located in street and local centers, as well as a mix of new and established shopping centers. In an interview with CNBC, Jeff Gaul, senior VP of real estate and store development, Sephora, said the focus will be on more off-mall sites.

“We are getting closer to where she lives and works, where she does most of her errands ... where she can pull right up and grab something," Gaul said.

The retailer, owned by luxury global giant LVMH, did not specify any of the exact locations. But it said that the stores will be located in more than 75 cities centered around local neighborhoods and community centers, including Charlotte, N.C., Nashville, and San Jose, Calif.

The stores will feature a sleek architectural and visual design that reflects  Sephora's signature look and feel. The retailer will utilize more cost-effective materials, which it said will allow deeper investment in customer-centric experiences and services, and employee development. Additionally, all new stores will be powered by 100% renewable energy, helping to reduce the retailer’s energy consumption and tying into its sustainability program.

As part of Sephora's expansion, the mix will  include a smaller, 4,000-sq.-ft. format that is designed to allow Sephora to more seamlessly integrate into street and local center locations. It will feature layout changes, including a more prominent upfront location for haircare and skincare,  as well as a new Sephora Studio for skin and beauty services. The stores will keep the retailer's Beauty Advisor service along with in-store offerings such as mobile checkout, Find Your Fragrance and Beauty on the Fly.

Sephora also plans to include store features such as sleek, easy-to-navigate fixtures at the front of the store, digital beauty tools like Sephora Color IQ technology that scans the surface of a customer’s skin and assigns it a special number, which reveals scientifically precise foundation, concealer, and lip recommendations, and the Sephora Digital Makeover Guide, which tracks all products used or recommended to customers during their in-store service and emails details to them for future reference. 

“Everything we do at Sephora is with our clients’ evolving needs in mind,” said Gaul. “In looking at where and how today’s beauty lover is shopping, there’s no doubt that there’s a trend toward more local shopping destinations. This year, clients can expect to see more Sephora stores not only in malls and high-traffic shopping centers, but also closer to home. These locations are meant to complement our existing fleet and give clients a more personalized and customized experience.”

 "As we look at ways to continue to be more inclusive and accessible, brick-and-mortar continues to be a huge opportunity for us to deepen emotional connections with our clients and local communities,  said Jean André Rougeot, CEO of Sephora Americas. "It’s through our interactive store environment, our best-in-class educational tools and services and incredible engagements with our beauty advisors that we are able to best service and inspire clients on their beauty journey.”