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Sephora exits South Korea after yielding to stiff competition

By Rachel Douglass


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Credits: Sephora

LVMH-owned cosmetics giant Sephora has closed up shop in South Korea after struggling to capture a solid foothold in the market.

The closure comes four years on from when the brand first stepped into the region, with the opening of a flagship store in Seoul’s Gangnam district which was followed by five more store openings.

The move had initially been one of optimism, yet it had ultimately not paid off. Now, Sephora is preparing to close all stores, online platforms and mobile apps in South Korea by May 6, withdrawing entirely from the country.

The retailer confirmed the departure in a series of Instagram posts on a dedicated profile for the Korean market, one of which it stated: “Thank you very much for the love and support you customers have given to Sephora. Sephora, the world's largest beauty platform, can continue to be found in 10 local stores and online malls in Asia.”

Alongside grappling with the vastly saturated beauty market in Korea, where it faced stiff competition from local beauty giant CJ Olive Young, it also grappled with an inability to achieve profitability.

According to Inside Retail Asia, Sephora Korea had posted losses of 12.4 billion won (9.26 million dollars) in 2020 and 17.6 billion won in 2022.

South Korea