Ulta 'Playing Offense' Amid Speculation About Amazon Incursion
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The retailer of "all things beauty" posted Q2 net sales growth in excess of 20% to $1.29bn. Rumors have been swirling about a possible luxury beauty play from Amazon, but Ulta management is undaunted, telling investors, “We have no blinders on, and we're playing offense.”
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The beauty giant's second-quarter performance reflects global momentum in specialty retail and online channels and accelerating growth in China in particular. Analysts previously expressed concerns that increased distribution away from department stores could dilute Lauder's prestige positioning, but the firm consistently has defended the shift as essential to its future with younger consumers
Firm's skin-care sales jumped up 16% in the fiscal 2018 first quarter, fueled by strong showings from Estee Lauder, La Mer, Origins and mask specialist GLAMGLOW, whose ascent shows no sign of slowing. Meanwhile, MAC's increasingly diversified distribution model is bearing improvements in North America.
The firm plans to maintain its brands’ prestige positioning by judicious partnering with e-commerce distributors and a “digital-first mindset” that extends to the in-store experience. Lauder reports 9% sales growth for its latest quarter and 5% for its fiscal 2017, driven by double-digit gains in travel retail, online and specialty- and multi-channel retailers and from growth across geographies and categories except haircare.