Sephora's direct competitors include Ulta, Harmon, Space NK and Bluemercury. Sephora also competes with department store beauty counters by operating locations within major department stores. It competes less directly with independently owned beauty stores.
Sephora is the largest retailer in its niche, with over 300 stores in North America and over 1,300 stores worldwide. It also maintains over 400 locations within J.C. Penney stores. Ulta is its closest competitor in terms of retail footprint; there are over 600 Ulta stores in the United States. Space NK and Bluemercury are smaller competitors, with fewer than 50 stores each. Harmon is a subsidiary of Bed, Bath & Beyond that operates a single flagship store in New York.
Sephora is a French brand established in 1970, but its presence in the U.S. market only goes back to 1998. Ulta, an American company, has been selling beauty products in the U.S. since 1990. Both chains target consumers who are not loyal to particular brands; instead of focusing on one brand, they train employees in all brands they sell and focus on value to the consumer over brand loyalty. They add value for their customers by offering beauty classes, consultations and both walk-in and scheduled makeup services.