Late last year, the news unofficially – as in it didn’t directly come from Sephora but rather very trusted sources – broke that Sephora had plans to finally set shop up in the U.K once again; sure it would only be one location (London) but for many it was better than nothing and raised the hope of the possibility for further British branches. For weeks, it was all anyone could talk about and the announcement was received with unprecedented excitement levels, well dear reader I’m afraid Sephora is no longer arriving on the U.K shores anytime soon, if ever.
Why? From what I have gathered no one really knows. Perhaps Sephora felt it was too little, too late? Maybe they decided that that the supposed location of Westfield Strafford was not ideal as it isn’t exactly central, nor somewhere those pushed for time would venture; as a Scot that has been to London several times – with my tourist blinkers on – I would imagine that Oxford Street would be a more fitting address – central and a hotspot for both local and visiting traffic. There is also the fact that a lot of brands that Sephora stock are exclusive to other retailers within the UK – for example Kat Von D is only sold within certain branches of Debenhams and Tarte can only be found on the QVC website. Of course, this is all speculative and the real reasoning most likely will never come to light.
Although I wasn’t the hugest champion for the U.K unveiling – despite it’s European roots, I feel that the U.S is the real “home” of Sephora – I am a little sad that the expansion has not been granted the green light – the beauty industry has never been more booming and just about every blogger and YouTuber who as much as wears lipstick has undoubtedly uploaded some form off Sephora haul in their time. I am not deluded enough to as much as hint we alone keep the beauty sector afloat but all that free brand promotion certainly can’t help the brand. I have said in the past that I don’t think the U.K version of Sephora would be as impressive as those further afield but I did agree that there certainly is more than room for a one-stop cosmetic and skincare shop within the U.K – a gap said brand could more than fill.
I also assumed (foolish I know) that with a new international location that a British website wouldn’t be far behind meaning no more costly importation fees, nor lengthy waits for said delivery to arrive (well in theory – we’ve all had encounters with dodgy couriers). An online U.K based Sephora presence would also open up the brand to those who are unable to travel be it to London or elsewhere, and of course allows for those late night and often regrettable splurges. Even if said website only sold own brand products – which I would argue are as good, if not better than some high end products – it would be a start and a move very much welcomed by many.
There are rumbles that perhaps Sephora will go down the concession route within the U.K; opening up small counters in already existing department stores, something that is already in play in hundreds of J.C Penny stores within the states. Again this is better than nothing and also allows customers to see and try products before purchase, and in the long run could serve as a test to how well the company is received within a market it has neglected for so long.