Ulta Positioning Company For Store, Digital Growth

As sales at Ulta continue to grow at a steady pace, the beauty retailer is moving forward with plans to open 225 stores in the coming three years while also sharpening its focus on digital operations.

During a recent investor conference, Ulta officials said the company is refining its U.S. store target to 1,500 to 1,700 locations. The company plans call for 80 new stores in 2019, 75 new stores in 2020 and 70 new stores in 2021.

In addition, Ulta has also taken steps to build its digital innovation ecosystem. This includes investments in digital workflow partner Iterate and online booking tool partner Spruce, and recent acquisitions of QM Scientific and GlamST. The latter two are technology startups in artificial intelligence and augmented reality, which together supports the company’s personalization initiatives and accelerates its digital innovation capabilities, Ulta officials said.

The retailer also announced a new target for e-commerce fulfillment of two-day delivery by 2021, supported by the opening of a Fast Fulfillment Center in 2019 serving e-commerce only orders, and implementing ship-from-store capability in select stores.

For the company’s fiscal year third quarter, the company reported comparable sales growth of 7.8%, on the high-end of guidance of between 7% and 8% issued in late August. E-commerce sales grew 42.2%.

Ulta officials said they expect to report diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of fiscal 2018 at the high end of the range of the company’s prior guidance of $2.11 to $2.16. The retailer reported diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 of $1.70.