The Sephora Beauty Bus will be parked in the bus lane outside the store tomorrow morning from 7am. Photo / Babiche Martens

Watch: Your Exclusive First Look At The New Sephora Auckland

Viva takes you behind the red tape to bring you an exclusive walk through of New Zealand's only Sephora store

A section of Queen St is set to be closed off tomorrow morning to allow for expected crowds at the opening of Sephora’s first New Zealand store. The French-founded, multi-national beauty emporium is the latest – and biggest – of the retailers entering our market. But If you think we’ve hit peak beauty yet, think again.

Celebrities and influencers are hawking cosmetics and millennial and younger Instragram followers are snapping them up. The appetite for new brands is ever increasing. The global beauty market was valued at USS532 billion ($784b) two years ago and is forecast to reach US$805 billion ($1187b) by 2023. This country hasn’t seen the half of it.

The boarding has now been removed from 152 Queen St, Auckland. Photo / Babiche Martens

“The demand is here, the online store launched in 2016 and we’ve seen rapid and steady growth since,” says Sephora’s Sydney-based communications manager Chelsea Kirby. She won’t be drawn on the brand’s expected next openings, with company focus on the launch, but does say: “New Zealand is a priority market for us.”  Since expanding into Asia-Pacific in 2005, the company, owned by the LVMH luxury conglomerate, has opened more than 350 stores.  

Sephora’s arrival adds to the relatively small selection of prestige and innovative brands available in New Zealand. It is the exclusive stockist of buzz brands Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, Tarte, Huda, and designer offerings from the likes of Marc Jacobs and Givenchy. The Sephora Collection is a house brand that provides entry point pricing for everyday items. In all, Sephora NZ will offer more than 80 brands, taking in makeup, skincare, haircare and fragrance. High-tech tools, including the New Zealand retail launch of the vaunted Dyson Supersonic hair dryer and Air Wrap styling device will also feature.

The concept store boasts a new layout, including high-tech screens and interactive stations offering beauty buffs a more tactile experience. Photo / Babiche Martens

They’re laid out in counter displays that encourage customers to pick up and play with products. The store is a flagship design for further openings in Australasia and includes a bold striped tiled floor in Sephora’s trademark black and white colours. The walls are topped with screens projecting images of aspirational glamour. Lighting at makeup counters is calibrated to reflect daylight conditions to provide better foundation matches. Staff will be able to ring up sales on mobile tablets as well as at counters.  

One thing we won’t see initially at Sephora is NZ brands. Over time, buyers are open to assessing them, as has happened in Australia, with model Miranda Kerr’s Kora skincare on the shelves in both countries. Another crossover is Alpha H, an active ingredient range  started by Australian-resident New Zealander Michelle Doherty.   

Similarly, Marc Jacobs Beauty is available exclusively from Sephora. Photo / Babiche Martens

National brand artist Alphie Sadsad says more brands are recognising diversity and extending the range of skin tones foundations cater for. “And the boys are not shy to come in and get a makeup done.”

Makeup is the largest component in Sephora’s sales, but lucrative skincare is gaining ground.  “Younger makeup-obsessed customers are getting more into skincare,” says Alphie, initially focussed on improving their appearance, but also extending to interest in “clean” ingredients. Skincare masks are store top-sellers. In the last 12 months, the skincare ranges stocked at Sephora have nearly doubled, says Chelsea. Customers also look for makeup which offers skincare benefits.

Huda Beauty is one of the many makeup brands available exclusively from Sephora. Photo / Babiche Martens

Sephora is far from alone in seeing potential for sales in New Zealand. The Australian-based multi-brand Mecca store set up one shop around a decade ago and now has around 10, including moving from the main centres to capture new consumers in Tauranga. Chanel is one of the big names with a beauty boutiques at Britomart and Dior is eyeing a city opening next year.

Department stores and malls are also setting aside more and more space for beauty and competition will only increase when David Jones opens in Auckland, and Westfield Newmarket, Commercial Bay and other mall expansions come on stream.

Viva was the first media outlet to experience the new store in all its glory. Photo / Babiche Martens

• Sephora opens at 9am, July 20, at 152 Queen St, with opening day activities from 7am.

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