Sugababes Serenade the Crows at Sephora’s Westfield London Opening – WWD

LONDON – Finally.

After 18 years, Sephora opened once again on British soil, and to the beat of the Sugababes, who performed live on Tuesday night to a packed opening night at the brand’s new 6,000 square foot Westfield White Town store.

Huge black balloons filled the store as trays of champagne moved through the space with its black floors, warm lighting and walls filled with products ranging from perfumes to cosmetics to skin-boosting scrubs.

The shopfit is the first of its kind for the LVMH Moët Hennessy belonging to Louis Vuitton Sephorawith double height ceilings, soft edges, textured finishes and large green plants dotted here and there.

The curation and merchandising were done with a publisher’s eye. Walking around feels like flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine, packed with brand information, product news, exclusives, trends and recommendations.

There’s a booth called The Lipstick Bar with a myriad of brands, colors, textures and finishes on offer, and another booth called Hot on Social Media, which highlights the top 10 trending items. This week, that included Prada Paradoxe and Wow hair products.

The workshop at Sephora London Westfield.

Courtesy picture

Other spaces are devoted to the Sephora Collection, which includes bestsellers such as jumbo eye pencils and Size Up mascara. A huge selection of Sephora-branded body care is located in the back, right next to the state-of-the-art self-service checkouts.

There are merchandise islands with names like Eye Must Haves and The Next Big Thing, which currently features brands like Ouai and JVN.

In total, there are more than 135 brands, plus a hub in the center of the store that offers services ranging from perfume bottle engraving to professional makeup, skincare and diagnostics.

Brands exclusive to Sephora UK include Makeup by MarioGXVE by Gwen Stefani, One/Size by Patrick Starrr, Vegamour, Skinfix and Commodity.

The store is also launching physical retail brands for the first time in the UK, including Tarte (which has its own area near the front of the store) Glow Recipe, Supergoop, Danessa Myricks and Kosas.

The long-awaited opening follows Sephora’s purchase and rebranding of e-commerce site Feelunique, which it uses to fuel and monitor strong demand from the UK market.

Sarah Boyd, managing director of Sephora UK, said the region is among the top 10 prestige beauty markets in the world, “with a very high level of digital adoption”. She said UK consumers have “a strong appetite for a carefully curated prestige beauty offering tailored to their needs”.

The Lipstick Bar at Sephora Westfield London.

Courtesy picture

Hours before Tuesday’s opening, she said the store had been marketed in a “democratic” manner, with no particular emphasis on one category over another.

“We did this because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” and how the customer is going to shop, she said as the Sugababes practiced their set on a small stage in the middle of the store, and the vendors prepared the shelves.

“We have the e-commerce business, and we can see what’s selling, but the in-store sales could be very different. Our two biggest categories right now are skincare and makeup, and it’s likely going to be the same in-store. Hair and fragrance are also very important, so we give a lot of space to these categories as well. We’ll see how consumers buy and if we somehow have to make any adjustments,” she said.

Boyd added that she was particularly interested in seeing how Sephora Collection performs in the new London store.

For the first time, the British customer “will be able to see Sephora Collection as a whole, play with it and understand it better. We already have good brand recognition, but I think when customers see it in all its glory, it will be really impressive,” said Boyd.

She added that in the future, Sephora will link its app to the in-store experience so customers can create wishlists, find the right products and navigate the store more efficiently.

Boyd confirmed a second store will open in the UK this year, but declined to confirm the location. WWD understands that Sephora had seen the mall space on the site of the former Battersea Power Station in South London.

Expectations for this new Sephora are such that the opening night is expected to last two days, with more guests in attendance, and that the Sugababes will perform again on Wednesday, the first official day of trading.

Sephora marketed the opening from afar, plastering turnstiles at nearby London Underground stations with the retailer’s signature black and white stripes and running digital adverts inside and outside Westfield and in the center from London.

This isn’t Sephora’s first foray into the UK. The retailer opened its first store there in 2000 in the Bluewater shopping center in Kent, opening nine doors in total. But in 2005 they were closed as the brand was unable to break through the intense competition from Boots and others.

In 2021, post-Brexit and with Boots‘ lagging sales, Sephora has taken a first step towards its return to Britain by acquiring prestigious online beauty retailer Feelunique in a transaction valued at 132 million pounds.

He renamed the site to Feelunique ships approximately 80,000 products per day.

There’s a lot at stake in the UK beauty market. According to Euromonitor, it is the second European beauty market after Germany and the top 10 worldwide.

Euromonitor previously predicted UK beauty market revenue to reach $17.32 billion in 2022, with expected annual growth of 4.1% each year until 2026.

Sephora is not the first retailer to tap into beauty cravings in the UK market.

In 2020, Harrods launched a new standalone beauty concept called Beauty Hwhich now has stores in cities including Edinburgh, Bristol and Newcastle.

Boots, meanwhile, has ramped up its beauty offering in major retail hubs, aiming to replicate the style, merchandising and buzzing vibe at retailers such as Sephora and Ultimate Beauty.

NK space is also in expansion mode, having recently opened its largest unit at Battersea Power Station, while the beauty floors of major London retailers such HarrodsSelfridges, Fenwick, Harvey Nichols and Liberty are packed with customers of all ages looking for products and experiences.

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