• Retail Dive

Sephora plans 260-store expansion through Kohl's, owned stores

By Cara Salpini

Published Feb. 26, 2021

Dive Brief:

  • A year after announcing plans for its biggest North American expansion, Sephora is carrying out its largest expansion in the U.S. with over double the number of store openings than it had planned for 2020, according to a Thursday press release.

  • The move includes opening over 60 freestanding Sephora stores and 200 in Kohl's, part of a previously announced partnership with the department store. Last year, the retailer had planned to open 100 freestanding stores in North America.

  • The retailer did not directly address if these 60 are in addition to the 100 stores planned for last year or if they effectively replace the plans from 2020, but in an email to Retail Dive did say that the 60 freestanding stores are "in part a 2020 strategy shift due to the impact of the pandemic."

Dive Insight:

With a light at the end of the tunnel for retailers impacted by the pandemic, Sephora is once again announcing ambitious expansion plans. The retailer last year had planned 100 store openings, though it's unclear how many of those occurred, given COVID-19 became a serious concern in North America about a month later.

At the time, Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Store Development Jeff Gaul said the stores would focus on neighborhoods and stay away from malls, preferring instead strip malls, lifestyle centers and street locations.

"It's the place that they get pizza on Friday night, it's the place they do takeout Chinese, where they go to SoulCycle or where they go to work out, their drug store, their Whole Foods," Gaul said at the time. "That was really important to us."

The locations for this year are similarly focused, with an emphasis on "growing its presence in off-mall locations" and making its products "more accessible to beauty shoppers across the country," according to the release. Sephora is planning to open the freestanding stores in the Pacific Northwest, as well as in states like Florida and Texas, and cities like Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles and Nashville. Its locations with Kohl's, which will eventually number over 800, will begin opening in Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and the Midwest this year.

"Sephora's omni-business, which saw record online sales in 2020, remains a priority for the retailer, as beauty is one of the most interactive retail experiences and the in-store experience specifically is a critical part of shoppers' journeys," Sephora said in the release.

The company will also begin rolling out a buy online, pick up in-store service to all of its stores this week, following a successful reserve online, pick up in-store program. Sephora also highlighted other features aimed at online shoppers, including its sales through Instagram Checkout, its partnership with Instacart and its offering of installment payments through Klarna.