Boots aims to ‘reinvent’ retail experience with dramatic beauty overhaul

Boots says it is “well aware” that heritage is not enough for today’s customer and so it is revamping its beauty offering and in-store experience.

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Boots is gearing up for a complete transformation of its stores in the face of challenging high street conditions, unveiling a number of big plans it believes can revolutionise the beauty industry.

Next month, the 170-year-old UK retailer will refit 24 of its biggest beauty halls, replacing traditional beauty counters with trending zones, discovery areas, and live demonstration areas.

More than 200 beauty specialists will be introduced in-store alongside its existing ‘brand experts’. Each of these people will undergo “immersive” training on products and how to give customers the right advice.

Meanwhile, 20 new beauty brands and 805 products are set to launch in its stores over the next six months, with more to be added throughout the year.

“Beauty continues to be one of the most dynamic, inspiring and exciting parts of our business, and we are very excited to be completely overhauling our beauty experience,” says Seb James, senior vice president and managing director of Boots.

“With 800 million people walking through our doors every year, it is no surprise that we are already the market leader in beauty, but we want customers to never have any reason to go anywhere else. Adding a little glamour, some great new service and lots of new brands to our beauty offer represents the first few steps of that journey.”

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Boots will showcase its plans at the Glamour Beauty Festival, which begins tomorrow (8 March). Guests at the festival will be able to experience some of the latest products available at Boots and get a first look and feel for some of the new furniture that will be going into stores. New Boots beauty specialists will also be on hand to speak to readers and offer advice.

Speaking about the plans to revolutionise beauty and its beauty halls, Helen Normoyle, marketing director at Boots UK, says: “We can’t wait to tell our customers about the new beauty offer at Boots – there’s so much to be excited about and we want to bring them on this journey with us.

“Our 12-month partnership with Glamour, which we announced last month, will also really help bring this to life through sponsorship of their live beauty festivals in London and Manchester, where beauty lovers will get a sneak preview at some of the game-changing new brands set to launch in our stores and online.”

Boots, which is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, has just shy of 2,500 stores on Britain’s high streets and claims 90% of the population is within 10 minutes of a Boots store.

But despite increasing its market share, gross profit was down 7.8% in the final three months of the year compared to the same quarter in 2017.

Sales for Walgreen’s retail pharmacy international division, of which Boots is a part, decreased 5.9% to $2.9bn (£2.3bn) for the quarter, the company’s first of its 2019 financial year.

In the UK, comparable pharmacy sales fell by 3.5%, while comparable retail sales decreased 2.6%, which parent company Walgreens blamed on “weak UK market conditions”.

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