Kohl’s Reveals 400 New Sephora Store-in-Store Locations Amid Pressure to Transform


The big brand store-in-store partnership trend saw a major new backer Tuesday (Feb. 15) as embattled department store Kohl’s revealed plans to triple its recently launched Sephora venture and expand it to 400 additional locations this year — with another 250 slated to open in 2023.

In a statement to the media, the Wisconsin-based retailer said the Sephora at Kohl’s partnership was designed to overhaul its beauty business, bring in new, younger and more diverse clientele, while exciting existing customers, noting that the joint venture had already given a lift to sales and enabled cross-category purchases across all lines of business.

“The quick and vast rollout of Sephora at Kohl’s is a testament to how much we believe in this partnership and making prestige beauty more accessible to people everywhere,” said Kohl’s Chief Merchandising Officer Doug Howe in the statement, adding that the retailers are excited to bring “this elevated beauty experience” to existing and new customers this year.

Store-in-Store Specs

The store-in-store concept is a 2,500-square-foot Sephora location that mimics the look and feel of a freestanding location. Besides shopping for familiar signature makeup, skincare, hair and fragrance brands, customers can also consult with Sephora-trained beauty advisers and use testing and discovery zones.

Kohl’s said in the statement it is on track to open 850 Sephora at Kohl’s locations by 2023. Overall, it has more than 1,100 stores in 49 states. Sephora will take the place of the current Kohl’s beauty offerings, with signage reflecting both brands.

When the deal was struck in 2020, Sephora Americas President and CEO Jean-André Rougeot said the collaboration would extend “our complementary reach” while growing both its digital and in-store presence.

Read more: Kohl’s Teams With Sephora to Launch in-Store Shops

Sephora has been operating store-in-store locations inside JC Penney, but that deal is scheduled to expire in 2023. It has several other partnerships in place, including a deal with Instacart for same-day delivery of beauty products.

The store-in-store concept has been gaining participants lately, with such combinations as Petco and Lowe’s, Target and Ulta Beauty, and shoe retailer DSW and Midwestern grocery chain Hy-Vee, to name a few.

For Kohl’s, the store-in-store news was likely a welcome diversion from what has been a month of attention from outside investors looking to jumpstart the company, shake up its board, or even acquire it all together.

On Feb. 10, activist investor group Macellum Advisors named the 10 board members it will nominate at Kohl’s upcoming investor day March 7.

Macellum Managing Partner Jonathan Duskin, another board nominee, cited Kohl’s ongoing “underperformance” in a letter to Kohl’s executives with the full slate of candidates, citing “another lost year.”

See more: Kohl’s Attacked by 2nd Activist Investor, Dept Store Blasted for Lack of Urgency, Wasted Year

Kohl’s executives maintain the company is turning around — and that its omnichannel approach is better for the business than splitting up the digital and physical retail assets.

Kohl’s is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter earnings March 1.