Sephora, which has about 500 stores worldwide, is poised to launch its cosmetics and fragrance chain in Toronto late next year or early 2005, with plans to expand across the country.
"We are encouraged by the early response to Sephora's launch this autumn of its e-commerce business in Canada and we are exploring further opportunities there, but we do not have a definitive timetable," said Laura Accettella, a spokeswoman for the French company's US division.
Sephora arrived in the US in 1998, selling products organised by category and needs rather than by brand, as is the tradition in department stores. The US division has enjoyed double-digit, same-store sales gains at outlets open a year or more, and is on track to turn a profit by the end of the year.
"It will certainly have an impact on the Canadian domestic cosmetic and fragrance industry. The big brands have been largely in the major department stores, and it's been a very controlled market. This will certainly open it up. . . it is a lessening of the stranglehold," said retailing consultant Wendy Evans at Evans & Co. Consultants in Toronto.
Sephora is expected to set up shop in high-profile Toronto malls such as the Eaton Centre, Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Sherway Gardens, as well as the city's tony Bloor Street West shopping district.
In Autumn, the chain began selling its goods on-line in Canada through Sephora.com. offering more than 250 brands and 12,000 beauty products and fragrances.