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Sephora Taking Over Kohl’s Beauty In Strategic Partnership

Kohl’s is betting big on beauty, a category where it sees significant opportunity beyond a recent activewear push.

Just weeks after Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass discussed the “tremendous opportunity to build a significant beauty business” during a Q3 earnings call, the company unveiled Tuesday a new initiative that it hopes will invigorate its offerings and attract new shoppers.

Kohl’s and Sephora announced a long-term strategic partnership to create a new era of elevated beauty at the mid-market department store chain, combining the former’s expansive customer reach and omnichannel convenience with the latter’s prestige service, product selection and formidable beauty experience.

“Sephora at Kohl’s” will be a fully immersive, premium beauty destination, designed within a 2,500-square-foot space and prominently located at the front of the store. When the first 200 locations open in Fall 2021, the online beauty selection will also convert to exclusively showcase an expanded assortment of Sephora’s prestige product offerings.

The partnership will expand into at least 850 stores by 2023, offering an expansive footprint, a wide-reaching customer base and greater visibility for Sephora’s brand partners.

“We know customers want a bigger and bolder beauty experience at Kohl’s,” Gass said during the earnings call last month. “We are seeing meaningful outperformance in our elevated beauty shops that we’ve just recently expanded to 62 stores. We are pleased with the response we are seeing with the newness we’ve introduced to customers as well, including our recent launch of Lauren Conrad Beauty.”

Sephora is considered the largest specialty beauty retailer in the world. With its careful curation of brands and emerging categories like Clean, Sephora brings its immersive prestige beauty experience, with more than 100 carefully curated beauty brands, to Kohl’s 65 million customers across the U.S. Kohl’s, with a focus of serving the everyday needs for the whole family, is reimagining and accelerating the company’s ambition to be the most trusted retailer of choice for the active and casual lifestyle.

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“The Kohl’s and Sephora partnership will bring a transformational, elevated beauty experience to Kohl’s from the top global name in beauty,” Gass said in a statement. “This new collaboration is an excellent example of two customer-centric, purpose-driven companies leveraging each other’s strengths to make aspirational beauty far more accessible to millions of customers all across the country. It’s an extraordinary time of change and I am thrilled to partner with Sephora, a brand that shares our values and our passion for innovation and reinvention.”

Jean-André Rougeot, president and CEO of Sephora Americas, stressed that “this is not a pop-up collaboration, but an investment our brand partners can rely on for the long-term.”

“As a company with a history of sustained decades-long partnerships, Sephora has every confidence in the future of this collaboration and the unique experiences it will bring to consumers across the U.S.,” Rougeot said. “Our partnership will be built on expanding our complementary reach and scale in-store and online, creating customer-centric, prestige experiences, collaborating on new innovations, and living our shared values. We fully believe Kohl’s is the ideal partner to bring this vision to life.”

Sephora has 500 of its 2,600 stores in the Americas and Kohl’s has more than 1,150 locations in 49 states, serving 65 million customers, with limited overlap between the two store networks. This combined offering of at least 850 Sephora at Kohl’s locations by 2023 will draw new and younger customers to Kohl’s and will bring the Sephora experience to millions of new shoppers and existing members of the Sephora beauty community, who may not live close to a Sephora location, the companies said. Kohl’s will also offer the added convenience of easy in-store returns, store pickup and curbside pickup.

The shops will be staffed by Sephora-trained beauty advisors who will deliver the strong customer service for which Kohl’s is known with the deep beauty expertise, consultations and assistance in product discovery of Sephora. Sephora purchases at Kohl’s and will be eligible for Beauty Insider rewards benefits, as part of Sephora’s loyalty program.

The Sephora partnership is the latest bout of experimentation for Kohl’s, which years ago cozied up to Amazon, allowing the e-tail giant’s customers to execute their product returns inside the chain’s national network of stores.