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Here's How Beauty Chains Like Sephora, Ulta, and Even Walgreens Are Stepping Up Their Game

Inside a Sephora in Montreal. Image via <a href="http://www.wwd.com/beauty-industry-news/retailing/beauty-chains-aim-for-dominance-6051003/slideshow/6051060#/slideshow/article/6051003/6051060">WWD</a>
Inside a Sephora in Montreal. Image via WWD

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In an effort to combat the all-powerful department store, beauty chains such as Sephora, Ulta, and Bluemercury are kicking things up a notch. According to WWD, both Sephora and Ulta have been busy "overhauling existing stores and opening new locations in a bid to unseat department stores as the number-one purveyor of prestige beauty."

Here are the numbers: Ulta was planning on opening 1,000 new stores, but has just upped that number to 1,200. Bluemercury has plans, too, but those are a little smaller—they're hoping to open 300 locations, with 8 to ten 10 them happening this year. And let's not forget Walgreens. The Duane Reade chain is looking to open "several hundred" Look Boutiques over the next few years. Currently, they have 40.

Industry consultant Allan Mottus explains that the beauty chains have "been able to grow at the expense of two major universes: department stores and drugstores." WWD adds that Sephora, Ulta, and brands like Kiehl's and MAC Cosmetics were responsible for one-third of prestige beauty sales last year. As a point of comparison, department stores accounted for 90% of those very sales back in 1997.

So how'd they get those numbers to boost? Take a look at Sephora's recent makeover plan, which includes a Nail Studio, sleeker displays, "play stations," and Fragrance Flight Bars. By the end of the year, the brand also plans to have 386 shops inside J.C.Penney.
· Beauty Chains Aim for Dominance [WWD]
· Sephora Plots Beauty Domination With a Four-Store Facelift [Racked NY]