ULTA Beauty opens new Mag Mile store

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago native Mary Dillon, the CEO of ULTA Beauty, joined dignitaries Friday during the grand opening of their newest store on Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

The Chicago-based, nationwide beauty chain continues to grow and be profitable in an era of closing retail stores.

Dillon said their success centers on knowing who the customer is.

"If you really understand your guest, and the category that you operate in, you can navigate the changing retail environment," said Dillon.

ULTA is on track to add 100 stores per year that offer everything the beauty enthusiast might want. She said offering value goes beyond low prices.

"We serve all of our guests with the ability to touch the products smell the scents, get services hair and makeup, browse so for us it is all about bringing together an exciting retail environment in a category like beauty for the guest who loves it and also be great online," Dillon said.

Dillon said the shopping experience can't be matched online.

Retail analyst David Weiss said ULTA's plan is working.

"Add on what you can get at ULTA with the loyalty program and the discounts and having everything there at once very easy to do you have a winning formula you can defend against amazon with," Weiss said.

On Wednesday, Dillon - who was the first college graduate in her family - presented a $100,000 ULTA donation to the Working on Womanhood, a mentoring program for at-risk girls. Ninety-two percent of ULTA's workforce is female.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also attended the ULTA ribbon-cutting event.

"It is another thing to reach back and bring young women through that door of opportunity so that they too can make choices to not only shop here one day but to work here," Emanuel said.

For Dillon, she wants women to embrace their ambition.

"I think a lot of times we are taught that ambition is not right for women right but if you recognize that you really want to go far in your career there is nothing that should really have to hold you back," Dillon said.

ULTA's loyalty program has 24 million active members and the retailer is leveraging data it's accumulated over the years to drive try-before-you-buy strategies to get even more people into the stores. The company's stock price has more than tripled over the last five years.

The new ULTA store is located at 430 N. Michigan Ave.
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