LONDON — The race is on to grab a slice of the lucrative British beauty market.
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According to The Sunday Times of London, Sephora has agreed to buy Feelunique.com in a deal valuing the company at 132 million pounds. A deal is set to be revealed in the coming week, according to the report.
Spokespeople for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Sephora’s owner, and Feelunique.com did not return requests for comment at press time.
Sephora has long been locked out of the U.K. market due to the dominance of Boots. In addition, because of duties resulting from Brexit, Sephora no longer delivers products to the U.K.
The beauty giant has also been pushing further into the online space.
As reported last month, Sephora signed a long-term strategic partnership with Zalando to create a prestige beauty experience online, starting in Germany in the fourth quarter of this year.
A sale has been a long time coming for Feelunique. At the end of 2018, Feelunique’s owners, the private equity concern Palamon Capital Partners, called off another sale after bidders did not match the site’s valuation of 200 million pounds.
Not long after, Joël Palix, the brand’s longtime chief executive officer, exited the company and was succeeded by Sarah Miles. She joined from Amazon Inc., where she had served as EU marketing and new business director at Amazon Fashion.
Feelunique was established in 2005 and carries more than 35,000 products from 800 brands through its retail and marketplace channels.
It offers beauty, makeup, skin care, hair care, fragrance, accessories, devices and sexual wellness product categories. The company ships to more than 120 countries and boasts dedicated web sites in countries including France, Germany, Norway, China, elsewhere in the European Union and U.S.
According to the company’s website, it has 1.3 million active customers and ships more than 18,000 products every day. In the U.K. one of its direct competitors is Lookfantastic.com, with is owned by The Hut Group.
The bulk of Feelunique’s sales stem from Generation Z consumers and Millennials below the age 35.
The company said in 2020 it achieved “record levels” of sales and customer acquisition numbers. Revenue is thought to be in the neighborhood of 120 million pounds.
The beauty market is bubbling in the U.K., with high street giants — and not just Harrods — looking to woo the British beauty customer.
Last year, Boohoo bought the defunct Debenhams, and said it plans to leverage the department store’s brand relationships and cultivate its loyal clientele.
Boohoo and its rival Asos are undoubtedly eyeing the success that British fashion and lifestyle giant Next has had in the sector.
In 2019, Next bought the online premium beauty and well-being retailer Fabled by Marie Claire from Ocado Group and began rolling out physical beauty and home concept stores in the U.K. to house the hundreds of labels it carries.
Then there’s Amazon, which has been building premium beauty brands, including RéVive Skincare and Clé de Peau, into its new Amazon Luxury Stores offer.