Sephora is not moving forward with its Sephora Studio concept, a store format with a smaller assortment that focused more on services than its traditional locations, an executive at the company told Retail Dive.
There are currently five Sephora Studios open, and those will remain open, Jeff Gaul, Sephora's senior vice president of real estate and store development, said in an interview.
Instead, the small format concept announced in conjunction with its North American expansion is now the go-forward design, and the company will not open any new Sephora Studios.
A little over two weeks ago, Sephora announced plans for a large-scale North American expansion, which entails opening 100 stores in the United States and Canada, focused in more local areas.
As part of the expansion, the retailer announced a new store format — a 4,000-square-foot design that's meant to better fit the outside-the-mall locations it's moving into. That format will effectively replace the role Sephora Studio had played in the retailer's portfolio, according to Gaul, though the existing Sephora Studio stores will remain open.
"We're not moving forward with the Sephora Studio," Gaul said. "Instead, the concept that we're doing now with these hundred stores is kind of like the 2.0 version of Sephora Studio."
While the new version is still a smaller footprint than the usual Sephora location, Gaul said it will not compromise on assortment and will also include the services Sephora is known for offering in the rest of its fleet. That was primarily the reasoning behind abandoning the Sephora Studio concept: It couldn't offer customers all of the retailer's products and services, and Sephora ultimately wanted to open stores closer to the consumer.
"We kind of took both of those concepts and we blended them together," he said. He also noted that Sephora Studios were very niche, and the retailer wanted to be able to reach more customers with its stores.
The smaller format won't have a special name — just Sephora — and the goal is to give the customer essentially the same experience they would get in a regular Sephora, just in a more convenient way. That was something that was lacking in Sephora Studio, some of which were as small as 2,000 square feet.
"When they walk in, they want to be able to be like, 'Oh my god, I don't know what to look at first,' like a kid in a candy store. That's really what we've always been known for, from a beauty perspective," Gaul said of Sephora's customers. "How do we really deliver that? We want to make sure that we do it and sometimes in the smaller context, which was the Sephora Studio, it was just challenging to do that."
Using the smaller Sephora Studio format also meant relying more on localizing the assortment, which sometimes meant stores would "miss the mark," Gaul noted.
"We always want to make sure that we are always giving the client everything they're looking for, and then some," he said. "So with a little bit more square footage, we're able to do all of that."
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect a more detailed title for Jeff Gaul. He is the senior vice president of real estate and store development at Sephora.