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UK’s beauty business is big and it’s getting bigger

Beauty is big business and it is getting bigger. For many the only exclusive gold C they will ever be able to afford is on a lipstick or compact and it is that desire to buy into the luxury market which is creating the big bucks market. Welcome to the beauty boom.

Most women revel in a little luxury, add to that a big designer label and listen to the cash till ring. Realistically however there is only a tight core of women who can afford top names on a large scale but with the advent of designer make-up ranges label fever can cast its net wider.
According to Beauty Magazine, UK’s sales figures for cosmetics and personal care in 2015 reached £8.9 billion and sales next year are estimated to top £10 billion as designers begin to realise the enormous profit potential of colour cosmetics. Names including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein have already cashed in with launches of eponymous make-up lines; Armani, Jean Paul Gaultier and Prada are queuing up to follow suit.

With the fragrance market at virtual saturation point the rise in cosmetic power looks continue to set. Beauty trends are now as influential as the key clothing styles for the season and top make-up artists are as powerful as the designers themselves.

It is the success of these edgier labels like Nars, Mac and Bobbi Brown (newcomer Trish McEvoy outsells the prestige brands such as Lauder and Clinique at Harvey Nichols) that have made retailers determined to boost their image and revenue by careful endorsements. Boots for example have cleverly linked themselves with the funky make-up brand, Ruby and Millie which has been such a success for the store that there are now whispers of deals with the very ‘now’ Australian brand Bloom as well as, Benefit and Anna Sui.

And it’s not just in retail sales that the beauty industry is turning out to be a serious financial player. The beauty pages in glossy magazines are growing in number (Vogue Beauty has been reinstated within the main body of the book) and beauty issues are commonplace. Make-up artists feature prominently at the forefront of the season’s new looks and play a vital part in any designer’s catwalk show.

Artists such as Pat McGrath, Kevin Aucoin and Mary Greenwell are fast becoming as famous as the faces they transform and endorsement from the professionals is worth millions. And that’s when they don’t launch their own range, a la Jeannie Lobell (Stila) Paula Dorf, or Francois Nars – make-up stars, made over into millionaire moguls.

And because cosmetics are viewed as a necessity all women regardless of age and income are continual spenders. But it is the combination of necessity and luxury which is making such outstanding growth. Take the prestigious beauty boutique Space NK, for example. From its rather exclusive beginnings as part of a designer clothes store, the beauty aficionado’s favourite apothecary now has branches as widespread as Glasgow, Manchester and Bath, plus a hugely successful mail order catalogue.

Nicky Kinnaird, who has successfully launched the Space NK own-label products, stocked alongside skincare from Kiehls and Philosophy and make-up by Nars, Laura Mercier and Chantecaille, reckons the industry can only go from strength to strength.
“Space NK Apothecary offers a showcase for the beauty innovators in the industry. With a mix of skincare, cosmetics and haircare that have been ‘cherry picked’ to offer the customer high tech beauty solutions to suit their individual requirements and budget combined with unbiased advice and a unique customer service.”

The beauty boom has made a big impact into the unlikely surroundings of Dartford, Kent at the new shopping Mecca, Bluewater. Despite its less than glamorous atmosphere the retail village boasts not only a Space NK store but the first UK branch of American LVMH owned beauty giant Sephora. Within its 4,000 square feet of high-turnover retail space, Sephora is pioneering a new approach to beauty sales. Traditional make-up girls, loyal to one cosmetics company, have been replaced by a brand-independent consultant trained to meet the needs of the increasingly well-informed beauty consumer.

Karen Homer
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Karen Homer

Freelance Journalist at The Guardian
Karen Homer is a freelance journalist who writes on food and fashion.Karen has written for Vogue, The Times and The Guardian. She has authored three books, including Things a Woman Should Know About Shoes.
Karen Homer
Follow me

Written by Karen Homer

Karen Homer

Karen Homer is a freelance journalist who writes on food and fashion.Karen has written for Vogue, The Times and The Guardian. She has authored three books, including Things a Woman Should Know About Shoes.

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