As the luxury department store prepares to branch out to Essex with its first standalone beauty concept – H Beauty – is this new identity a step too far for an icon of British retail?

Harrods Hbeauty
A rendering of the H Beauty store opening in Essex in spring 2020.

From the high street to department stores and shopping centres, beauty is proving to be a fruitful battleground for brands.

Worth £22bn in 2018, the UK health and beauty market is forecast to grow by 16.6% between now and 2023, according to GlobalData statistics. Spend on skincare alone is expected to rise by 22.8% over the next five years, fuelled by demand for ingredient transparency and innovative new brands.

With 10% of beauty and personal care products being sold online in 2018, according to Euromonitor data, demand remains high for buying beauty products in the ‘real’ world. The frenzy building around the forthcoming London pop-up from direct-to-consumer brand Glossier (mysteriously set to arrive at some point this autumn), shows that even among Gen Z ‘in real life’ is still relevant in beauty.

In fact, Mintel data suggests that one in five beauty and personal care shoppers who do not buy online like to try out new products in-store first.

A brand hoping to capitalise on this growing market is luxury department store Harrods, which earlier this year unveiled its 90,000 sq ft experiential beauty emporium, more than double the size of its previous space.

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