Ulta Beauty Inc. will open its Jacksonville fast-fulfillment center this year as originally intended rather than postpone the opening until 2021, a delay it announced in December.
“We're accelerating investments to expand our shipping capacity this year, which includes the pull-forward of our Jacksonville fast-fulfillment center into 2020,” Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon told analysts May 28 in the company's first-quarter earnings conference call.
Ulta Public Relations Vice President Eileen Ziesemer said May 29 there was no precise date to open. “We'd like to have the facility open and operational by peak holiday time,” she said by email.
Ulta Beauty is hiring for the center. Jobs posted this week include operations manager, human resources director, human resources specialist, administrative coordinator and clerk.
Dillon said Ulta Beauty is seeing double-digit growth in e-commerce sales.
“COVID-19 has hastened channel shift across retail, and we believe much of this new consumer behavior will be sticky. So we're focused on how we can move even faster to win in an omnichannel world,” she said.
In addition to the shipping capacity expansion, Ulta Beauty will continue investing in existing buildings and expand its ship-from-store capability.
Ulta Beauty distributes and sells cosmetics, fragrances, skin care products and hair care products through its stores and its website.
Ziesemer said the five Jacksonville stores are open for retail, curbside and in-store pickup, but salon services are not available.
As of May 2, Ulta Beauty operated 1,264 retail stores across 50 states and also distributes its products through its website, ulta.com.
Its retail locations closed March 19 because of the pandemic.
“For much of the first quarter, Ulta Beauty operated as a digital-only business, and while e-commerce sales exceeded our expectations, it was not enough to fully offset the impact of our store closings,” Dillon said in a news release May 2.
She said Ulta Beauty has begun to reopen stores, with more than 800 stores offering curbside pickup and more than 330 stores open to customers.
“While it is still early, we have seen stronger-than-expected sales in reopened stores, and we’re seeing great engagement with our salon services, where available,” she said.
Ulta Beauty is based in Bolingbrook, Illinois, near Chicago.
Ulta Beauty is building-out a fulfillment center at 2619 Ignition Drive in the Park 295 Industrial Park in Northwest Jacksonville
The city issued a permit in July for Jim Cooper Construction Co. Inc. to improve 202,471 square feet of tenant space for Ulta Beauty at a cost of almost $3.98 million.
Ulta Beauty will lease part of a 552,634-square-foot building at Interstate 295 and Duval Road. NorthPoint Development of Kansas City, Missouri, is developing Park 295.
Tenant improvements show that Ulta Beauty will lease the northern part of the building.
In May 2019, the city confirmed that Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. was Project Flamingo, which City Council approved Jan. 8, 2019, for a city grant of $1.425 million.
Ulta Beauty intends to invest $37.5 million to lease and equip the center to distribute private-label skin and hair care products.
City legislation calls for the project to create 30 full-time jobs by year-end 2021 at an average annual salary of $46,346.
The positions include managerial, logistical, warehouse, receiving and shipping, forklift operators, truck drivers and support staff.
The company likely will be hiring many more workers because only the 30 jobs are tied to the required annual salary to receive the incentives. Lower-wage warehouse jobs are not counted toward the salary threshold.
In addition, public documents say the company could hire 400 seasonal workers annually.
Fast fulfillment centers serve only e-commerce orders. Dillon said the facilities will be able to fill up to 30,000 orders per day during peak times, "increasing our network capacity and progressing toward our goal of two-day e-commerce shipping by 2021."
In a November presentation to analysts, Ulta Beauty said its goal is two-day e-commerce shipping by 2021.