Ulta revs up growth

Image: Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Ulta Beauty is already one of the biggest growth stories of 2016, but its CEO has even bigger plans: to nearly double the number of stores.

The beauty chain currently has 900 locations, but CEO Mary Dillon told analysts this week that she envisions 1,700 stores, up from the 1,400 currently projected. 

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The company projects same-store sales – both brick-and-mortar and online – to rise between 12 and 14 percent this fiscal year. But it's betting that its core customer will drive even greater growth. 

This shopper, the beauty enthusiast, is obsessive about the product category and currently represents Ulta's best customer. Close to 15 million now shop there and are active members of the company's rewards program. But management believes there are a whopping 72 million shoppers who fit this profile. 

This shopper represents 77 percent of spending in the category, according to the company. She isn't looking to replenish favorite items so much as explore and try new things. 

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To win her business, Ulta will pursue new brands and exclusives, boost in-store service offerings and grow its loyalty program.