Sephora is a French chain of cosmetics stores founded in 1969. Featuring nearly 300 brands, along with its own private label, Sephora offers beauty products including makeup, skincare, body, fragrance, nail color, and haircare. Sephora is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH as of 1997. The Sephora logo is a white "S"-shaped flame against a black background. The name comes from the Greek spelling of Zipporah (Greek: Σεπφώρα, Sepphōra), the most beautiful wife of Moses.
Sephora first launched in Paris in a partnership between the UK’s Boots PLC and Nouvelles Galeries as a perfumery chain in 1970. It was purchased by Dominique Mandonnaud in 1993, who merged the purchase with his own perfume chain under the Sephora brand. Mandonnaud is credited for founding and implementing Sephora’s “assisted self-service,” sales experience, which departed from then-typical retail models for cosmetics by encouraging customers to try products in-store before purchasing.
Mandonnaud continued to expand the Sephora brand through the 1990’s, 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.
Sephora opened its first United States store in New York City in 1998 and its first Canadian store in Toronto in 2004. Its North American headquarters is located in San Francisco, with corporate offices in New York City and Montréal. Sephora currently operates over 360 stores across North America.
Sephora launched its online store to the U.S. in 1999 and into Canada in 2003. 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 1,700 stores in 30 countries worldwide generating over $4 billion in revenue as of 2013. As of September 2013, the Sephora at Champs Élysées in Paris, France, attracts over six million people a year.
On November 18, 2014, four customers filed a class action lawsuit against Sephora. 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.
On January 1, 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.
In August 2015 it was announced that Sephora would launch a subscription service: Play! By Sephora. The monthly subscription service will offer boxes containing five products for $10 a month. Boston, Columbus, and Cincinnati are the only three cities to test the initial service launch in September 2015. The service is scheduled to launch throughout the US in 2016.
Sephora features a variety of beauty products from more than 100 brands including NARS Cosmetics, Make Up For Ever, Mode Signature, Urban Decay, First Aid Beauty, Sunday Riley Skincare, Philosophy, Tatcha Aburatorigami, and Too Faced Cosmetics. Sephora also features its own make-up, skincare, and beauty tools/accessories. Packaging for the line features the company's elongated flame logo in standard black print.
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. There are more than 400 Sephora locations in JCPenney stores across the US.
Sephora’s sustainable development initiatives were recognized in December 2015. 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.