French cosmetics retailer Sephora will open its first New Zealand store next month after years of speculation.
Sephora's flagship three-storey store is expected to open on Queen St in July — the exact date has not been disclosed — and as part of the opening a 14-metre double-decker tour bus (think Spice Girls' Spiceworld) will hit New Zealand streets touring four cities, including Auckland. The other cities have not yet been decided.
The large store will be housed in a heritage building and will be similar in concept to other flagship stores Sephora has located in major cities around the world. The fitout of the store includes an elevator, interesting lighting fixtures, an outside canopy and elaborate black and white striped signage.
Work on the store began in April and it is understood the retailer has spent more than $5 million for the fit-out. To have a store of this size and scale complete within a three-month timeframe is an incredibly short turnaround.
The Sephora tour bus will showcase a selection of the retailer's exclusive brands, including Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. It will also feature makeup stations and artists for live demonstrations.
Alia Gogi, managing director of Sephora for Southeast Asia, said the tour bus would enable the retailer to share the arrival of its first New Zealand store with fans outside of the Auckland area.
"Sephora Queen St is set to become a beauty destination like no other, a place where New Zealanders will have access to a suite of the most sought-after beauty brands from around the world," Gogi said.
"We look forward to giving a taste of our Auckland store via our touring bus." The tour bus will hit the road later this month, ahead of the store opening.
Speculation of Sephora opening a New Zealand store has been rife for the best part of five years, though the retailer has remained tight-lipped on its plans for the market.
Sephora has quietly been running a local online store and delivering its product around the country for quite some time, and in May last year it registered Sephora New Zealand with the Companies Office, under parent company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said Sephora's Queen St store would be good for beauty businesses trading in the area.
"It's an exciting time for the city centre, with major global brands choosing to open their flagship stores here, bringing new international flavour to our already diverse retail sector," Beck said in April.
Queen St is visited by more than 15 million people each year.
"With significant investment happening along the street, it's an obvious choice for big brands like Sephora to make their New Zealand debut."
The Herald understands Sephora will also open a retail store at Sylvia Park mall in Auckland.