Ulta: A beauty stand­out

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Ulta is on a hot streak. Its one-stop strat­egy of sell­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of beauty prod­ucts and of­fer­ing sa­lon ser­vices un­der one roof has won over cus­tomers.

The beauty re­tailer has more than tripled its num­ber of stores to about 900 and more than quadru­pled an­nual sales to $3.9 bil­lion since early 2008, even amid com­pe­ti­tion from drug­stores, dis­coun­ters and on­line leader Ama­zon.com.

And un­der CEO Mary Dil­lon, who as­sumed the helm in 2013, Ulta Sa­lon, Cos­met­ics & Fra­grance aims to keep the mo­men­tum go­ing. Com­pany ex­ec­u­tives hope to ex­pand to more than 1,200 stores, while strength­en­ing its e-com­merce op­er­a­tions. But the com­pany wants to com­pete beyond price. It’s im­prov­ing its prod­uct pre­sen­ta­tion while of­fer­ing more tar­geted coupon of­fers and ex­tra perks for its loy­alty mem­bers. In the lat­est quar­ter, to­tal sales in­creased nearly 22 per­cent and prof­its rose 8.4 per­cent. The com­pany’s shares are up 29 per­cent so far this year and are hov­er­ing near $238. An­a­lysts have a “buy” rat­ing on the stock, ac­cord­ing to Fac­tSet. “Ulta’s unique shop­ping for­mat is a dif­fer­en­ti­ated crowd pleaser which keeps loyal cus­tomers com­ing back,” writes Cowen & Co.’s Oliver Chen.

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