Kohl’s and Sephora Join Forces

Kohl’s is positioning itself to compete in the lucrative beauty world with its new partnership with Sephora.

According to a Dec. 1 press release from the companies, Sephora plans to open 850 beauty stores within Kohl’s locations by 2023.

Kohl’s and Sephora’s new relationship will rival the recent deal made between Ulta and Target. Ulta Beauty will add stores to more than 100 Target locations and be available online in the second half of 2021.

200 of the new Sephora locations will open by next fall, and the rest will follow by 2023. Sephora will also launch on Kohl’s website, offering more than 100 beauty brands, some exclusive to Sephora.

“The Kohl’s and Sephora partnership will bring a transformational, elevated beauty experience to Kohl’s from the top global name in beauty. 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,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief executive officer.

The new deal with Kohl’s comes as Sephora’s dealings with JC Penney come to an end. JC Penney recently filed for bankruptcy and has agreed to close one-third of its stores. Ultimately, the partnership between JC Penney and Sephora, which began in 2006, is scheduled to end in 2023, just as the new partnership with Kohl’s begins.

Sephora tried to end its relationship with JC Penney earlier in 2020. JC Penney filed a temporary restraining order against Sephora in May to prevent the company from leaving JC Penney stores after JC Penney claimed Sephora threatened imminent termination of its contract. The companies eventually mended their relationship, but with Sephora’s announcement of the new deal with Kohl’s, it appears that the bridge was temporary.

The relationship between Kohl’s and Sephora will help Sephora expand its reach to clientele. Kohl’s has a vast network of more than 1,150 stores with little overlap with stand-alone Sephora locations.

“This is about reach. Kohl’s will allow us to reach consumers in a much broader way across the U.S,” said Jean-André Rougeot, chief executive of Sephora Americas.

The relationship will also help Kohl’s expand into the beauty market and potentially bounce back from the pandemic.

Kohl’s revenue fell 14% in the fall quarter of 2020 and is down 25.3% for the nine months leading up to Oct. 31.

By putting Sephora’s inside many of the Kohl’s locations, the company hopes to attract young shoppers who seek out the high-end beauty company.

“Beauty is an underdeveloped category for Kohl’s. It’s a big market, there is a lot of disruption happening and Kohl’s is positioned to capture significant market share over the next few years,” said Gass in an interview.

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