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Sephora is a Paris–based French multinational chain of personal care and beauty stores founded in Limoges in 1969.[3][2] Featuring nearly 300 brands,[4] along with its own private label, Sephora offers beauty products including cosmetics, skincare, body, fragrance, nail color, beauty tools, and haircare. Sephora is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH as of 1997.[2][5] The name comes from the Greek spelling of Zipporah (Greek: Σεπφώρα, Sepphōra), wife of Moses.[6][7]

IndustryConsumer goods
Founded14 August 1969 (1969-08-14)[1]
FounderDominique Mandonnaud[1]
HeadquartersParis, France
Areas served
Key people
Chris de Lapuente (Global president & CEO Sephora)
ProductsCosmetics & beauty
RevenueUS$4 billion (2013) (estimated)[2]
Websitewww.sephora.com [59]
www.sephora.ae [60]
www.sephora.sa [61]


Sephora's flagship store on Champs Élysées

Sephora's flagship store on Champs Élysées

Sephora, Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sephora, Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sephora first launched in Paris on 14 August 1969. It was acquired by Dominique Mandonnaud in 1993, who merged the purchase with his own perfume chain under the Sephora brand. Mandonnaud is credited for designing and executing Sephora's "assisted self-service" sales experience, which separated itself from standard retail models for cosmetics by encouraging customers to test products in retail locations before purchasing.[8][9]

Mandonnaud continued to expand the Sephora brand through the 1990s, opening up its flagship store in Champs Élysées in 1997. In July 1997, Mandonnaud and his partners sold Sephora to LVMH, who expanded the stores globally and bolstered the chain's product offerings to include beauty and cosmetic products.[2]

Sephora extended its operation to the Middle Eastern markets in 2007 and has opened over 44 Sephora UAE and KSA stores as well as an eCommerce store.[10][11] It extends its partnership with its exclusive brands in the region.[10]

On 1 January 2014, Calvin McDonald replaced David Suliteanu as president and chief executive officer of Sephora Americas. Suliteanu was named CEO of Kendo Brands, another business in the LVMH portfolio.[12]

Sephora opened its first United States store in New York City in 1998, its first Canadian store in Toronto in 2004 and first Australian Sephora store in 2014.[13][14] Its North American headquarters is located in San Francisco, with corporate offices in New York City and Montréal. Sephora currently operates over 430 stores across North America.[15]

In 26 August 2016, Sephora opened its 400th location in North America on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. The store is the city's new flagship location.[16]

On 31 March 2017, Sephora opened its largest retail location in North America near Herald Square. The store is approximately 11,380 square feet and features over 13,000 products. It's one of six Sephora TIP Workshop locations, with interactive services and tools, in North America; the others include San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Santa Clara Valley, and Toronto.[17][18][19]

On 19 November 2018, Sephora signed a long-term lease at Thor Equities’ Town Square Metepec, a new retail and entertainment center in Mexico totaling 1.7 million square feet.[20]


Sephora launched its online store to the U.S. in 1999 and into Canada in 2003.[13] The Canadian head office was opened in February 2007 by Marie-Christine Marchives, a former Sephora U.S. and Sephora France employee. Marie-Christine Marchives returned to France in July 2010 to become the general manager of Sephora France. She was replaced in Canada by Klaus Ryum-Larsen. Sephora currently operates over 2,300 stores in 33 countries worldwide [21] generating over an estimated $4 billion in revenue as of 2013.[2][22] As of September 2013, the Sephora at Champs Élysées in Paris, France, attracts over six million people a year.[23]


Sephora features a variety of beauty products from more than 300 brands, including NARS Cosmetics, Make Up For Ever, Too Faced Cosmetics, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Urban Decay, Benefit Cosmetics, Amazing Cosmetics, First Aid Beauty, Lancôme Cosmetics, Sunday Riley Skincare, philosophy, Jo Malone London, Atelier Cologne, YSL Beauty by Yves Saint Laurent, Tatcha,[24] Huda Beauty, Kat Von D, and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.[25] Sephora also features its own make-up, skincare, beauty tools and accessories. Packaging for the line features the company's elongated flame logo in standard black print.

In 2010, the company debuted fragrance collections with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, known as Elizabeth and James, and a makeup line with Marc Jacobs.[26]

Sephora inside JCPenney

In October 2006, Sephora began opening stores inside JCPenney. Sephora inside JCPenney features some of the same makeup, skincare, and fragrance brands as well as its own product line found in stand alone stores nationwide. Sephora inside JCPenney stores are much smaller than a normal store, usually 1,500 sq ft in size.[27] There are more than 600 Sephora locations in JCPenney stores across the US.[2][28][21] In 2017, JC Penney announced the closing of 138 stores nationwide; several of which house a Sephora in JCPenney store.[29]

Subscription service

In August 2015 it was announced that Sephora would launch a subscription service: Play! By Sephora. The monthly subscription service offers boxes containing sample size products for a monthly fee.[30] Boston, Columbus, and Cincinnati were the only three cities to test the initial service launch in September 2015. The service launched throughout the US in 2016.[31] As of 2018, the subscription service is still only available in the US.

For $10 USD billed monthly, each month’s box is a collectible bag that changes each month with five deluxe skin care, makeup, or hair care samples. Each box includes a selection of products based on answers provided by customer in PLAY! profile.[32]

Sephora UAE and KSA

Sephora storefront in Dalma Mall

Sephora storefront in Dalma Mall

Sephora UAE and KSA are regional subdivisions of Sephora. The Middle East head office was opened in February 2006 by Pierre Fayard. Since 2007, over 30 separate Sephora stores have opened across the Middle East region (UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait). Sephora UAE and KSA provide make up and skincare products from notable brands such as Christian Dior, Laura Mercier and Kat Von D[33][34] in a high tech contemporary retail environment.[35] Sephora’s first Middle East store opened at Seef Mall in Bahrain on 7 January 2007 followed by Festival City, UAE on 1 March 2007 with a further 30 stores opening across the region since.[33] The Sephora store in the Dubai Mall opened in December 2008 and is now ranked as the company’s number two store worldwide after the Paris Flagship store. In 2007 the late Sephora CEO, Jacques Levy expressed a desire to have 100 stores open across the region by 2010. A year later the international financial crisis derailed these ambitions. Levy stepped down in 2011 and died a year later.[36] Despite this early setback Sephora have opened more than 30 more stores and introduced online shopping to the region in November 2016.[37][38] In December 2017, Sephora opened ‘Gifts Beauty Park, the worlds first beauty Festive playground in Dubai.[39] The pop-up store featured fairground and makeup themed games and invited shoppers to sit down with professional Sephora makeup artists to experience the products.[39] In March 2018 Guillaume Motte was announced as the new president of Sephora Europe and Middle East.[40]


Sephora’s Middle East stores stock internationally renowned products by the like of Clinique, Estée Lauder and L’Oreal alongside local brands such as Shiffa Dubai Skin Care and Huda Beauty.[41] According to Forbes, Huda Beauty, founded by Dubai based blogger and business woman Huda Kattan, was the top selling cosmetic brand across Sephora Middle East, in 2018.[42]


In 2016, Sephora launched its own all access tablet and smartphone application Designed "made manifest" by Dennis Hornstra, a software and application designer for Apple. It can be seen as an augmented reality platform. By uploading a photo, the user can receive a virtual makeover, experimenting with different product and shade combinations.[43][44][45]


In 2000, Sephora.com purchased the assets of Eve.com for "high six-figures".[46][47]


In April 2019, R&B singer SZA accused the store of racial profiling. On May 23, 2019, Sephora announced they would be closing all locations on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, to hold diversity training for its staff.[48]


On 18 November 2014, four customers filed a class action lawsuit against Sephora.[49] The suit alleges that Sephora engaged in racial discrimination by wrongfully deactivating the customer rewards accounts of Asian customers under the pretense that these customers were buying products from Sephora in bulk and reselling them.[50][51]

In December 2018 a small business owner by the name of Carrie Gray, filed a lawsuit against Pat McGrath and Sephora over products bearing the name Skin Fetish.[52] As of April 2019, the case is still pending.

Environmental record

Sephora’s sustainable development initiatives were recognized in December 2015.[53] The company received the Sustainable Brand label, as well as the 2015 R Award for eco-design by the Génération Responsible association. Global Cosmetic News reported that Sephora's newly launched display cases have a 30% lighter metal frame that will reduce CO2 emissions by 220 metric tons.[54]

Awards and honors

In 2010, Women's Wear Daily named Sephora the specialty retailer of the year.[55][56]

In March 2018, FastCompany named Sephora to the number 36 spot (of 50) on their list of "World’s Most Innovative Companies", citing its expanded offering of broadly diverse and inclusive product lines like Fenty Beauty.[57]

See also

  • Watsons


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