Sephora and Kohl Alliance Sunsets Latter’s Decade-Plus Union With Beleaguered JCPenney

Just weeks after Ulta Beauty and Target announced a partnership to create Ulta Beauty at Target Shop-in-Shops, rivals Sephora and Kohl’s announced that they were forming their own alliance.

As part of the new agreement, Sephora will open 200 2,500-square-foot stores in Kohl’s stores starting next fall. Kohl’s online beauty selection will again only contain the offers of the renowned beauty retailer. These spaces will replace Kohl’s existing beauty range and will receive prime real estate in Kohl’s locations right outside the store.

“This is not a pop-up collaboration, but an investment that our brand partners can rely on in the long term. as a company with a history of decades of partnerships, ”said Jean-André Rougeot, CEO of Sephora Americas, in a statement. “Sephora has every confidence in the future of this collaboration and the unique experiences it will bring to consumers in the United States.”

Michelle Gass, Kohl’s CEO, added that the partnership “will bring Kohl’s a transformative, upscale beauty experience from the world’s leading beauty name.”

In contrast to Ulta Beauty, for whom shop-in-shops are new, Sephora is a veteran with grizzles: Since 2006, the beleaguered department store operator JCPenney has had in-store concepts. However, JCPenney’s bankruptcy filing earlier this year made that relationship difficult and ultimately resulted in a legal kerfuffle in which the mall-based Banner filed a lawsuit against the beauty supplier for attempting to end its deal.

This dispute was short-lived as the two sides ultimately settled their differences and Sephora had an opportunity to seek alternative partners, the beauty retailer told Adweek.

“Both Sephora and JCPenney jointly agreed earlier this year to make our partnership agreement more flexible to take advantage of other opportunities and to continue to work together to operate our facilities responsibly until our proposed partnership ends in early 2023,” said a Sephora spokesperson in an email.

Ironically, 2023 is the same year the beauty retailer plans to open stores in 850 Kohl locations. In marketing, Sephora plans to finalize its plans shortly before the partnership starts in 2021.

While the beauty retailer, a unit of luxury conglomerate LVMH, refused to say when talks with Kohl’s began, it implied that the decision to merge wasn’t made overnight.

“It has taken some time to carefully bring our two companies together, but we believe that this deep understanding and collaboration will allow us to optimize our two strengths to create something that will transform the industry,” said the spokesman .

Sephora said Kohl’s is a natural fit as the two retailers share a focus on innovation, integrity, respect and “game-changing” customer experiences.

“Kohl’s ongoing transformation and first-class partnerships in categories that come closest to beauty (fashion, wellness, active) give us great confidence in the relevance of this offer for consumers and the long-term success of this partnership.”

In terms of the impact Sephora’s shop-in-shop business in Kohl’s will have on the beauty retailer’s standalone stores, the plan is to open between 60 and 70 such locations in 2021. Sephora will review future store openings in connection with the partnership. This also goes hand in hand with Sephora’s previously announced real estate plans: Earlier this year, Sephora announced plans to prioritize the opening of stores outside the mall. Most of Kohl’s locations are also outside of malls.

“Sephora at Kohl’s is an extension of our stand-alone Sephora businesses. With Kohl’s extensive presence and omnichannel convenience, we can bring the unprecedented Sephora experience to millions of unreached customers and existing members of the Sephora beauty community who may not be near a Sephora location, ”said the spokesman.

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