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Ulta Whisper

Ulta Whisper
 

Research Question: Will Ulta continue its positive momentum through 2013 despite increasing competition and pricing pressure?

Companies Covered: Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance (ULTA)

Report Available: August 22, 2013

 

Despite maintaining impressive sales growth, Blueshift’s initial research indicates Ulta facing potential challenges from increasing competition and pricing pressure from the likes of Amazon.

 

Observations

  1. In its first quarter, Ulta posted better-than-expected earnings with a 23% jump in sales, and same store sales growth of 6.7%. For Q2, it expects comp store sales to grow in the 4% to 6% range, though it offered guidance below analyst estimates. The company also named its new CEO, effective July 1. Ulta is building out mobile marketing content with a focus toward the 11 million members of its customer loyalty program.
  2. Amazon is planning a beauty re-launch later in 2013, hoping for direct distribution deals with brands such as Clinique, Estee Lauder, and Lancome. While these and other prestige brands typically cost the same in Macy’s, Sephora, and Ulta, the threat of them being found for less through Amazon is unsettling and potentially costly for Ulta.
  3. In Blueshift’s May 30 Ulta report, stores, customers and suppliers continue to see strength for Ulta. Two supplier sources expect their own sales to increase in the mid-single digits year to year. A third supplier said Ulta’s traffic was flat but that customers are spending more. An industry specialist, who also is a beauty products distributor, said his own first- and second-quarter sales have risen year to year. One supplier and one customer said the addition of the Lancôme line was a positive for Ulta. Sources believe Ulta does need to boost its online presence in order to stay competitive.

 

To gain further insight into Ulta’s sales trends and competition, Blueshift will gather data from independent sources in the following silos: suppliers, store personnel, customers, and industry specialists.

 

To see other ideas Blueshift Research is currently working on, please click here.