Shu Uemura, the Japanese makeup brand based in Tokyo and owned by L’Oreal first landed in my local branch of Harvey Nichols soon after the Manchester’s reconstruction was completed. Over the years they have spread across the UK appearing as beauty counters in a few high profile chains, namely Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, Selfridges, SpaceNK and Harrods, with a few boutiques dotted around the country though, predominantly in London, England.
I first discovered Shu Uemura purely by accident. I remember browsing in the brand new store for a skin friendly cleanser, I wanted a product which left my skin feeling healthy and soft without the drying flaking effect that some cleansers induced. Back then I knew nothing about the brand other than they’re used by several Japanese celebrities and they’re new to the UK.
The manager at my local counter suggested I should give try their products; I can’t remember the details of the conversation but she gave me a few 8 ml bottles of their High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil, showed me how I should use it, gave me some literature about other skincare products and I left happily. A few days later I returned to buy the full-sized retail product, spent a little time chatting with one of their makeup artists, explained what I wanted to do and asked how I can achieve this? She gave me loads of information, mentioned that having freckles were “pretty” and I shouldn’t feel the need to hide them. I eventually walked away with their Depsea Perfect Water-in Cake Foundation Compact and a few refills in my shade, a shade lighter and darker… That was my introduction into their makeup line.
Since the introduced to their skincare range, I never looked back. I absolutely adored them, with every uses it left my skin feeling clean, hydrated and soft feeling; it was so easy. That was it. I was glued! Over the following months, I gradually replaced all my skin care products with theirs; my skin’s condition kept on improving. I soon became one of their most loyal customers, often returning to trying other products, their makeup artists often recommend something new to me, usually leaving with more product samples to try, occasionally I’ll be giving additional full sized samples of my favorite products as a bonus to my purchases/restocking trips. Sometimes I’ll share new discoveries with my friends and family, giving them a few of my samples, enough for them to experience the excellence. Some I have managed to convert, others moaned about their price.. Me, I never complained, the cost was totally worth it. Over all I have been a loyal fan of the brand. Loving each seasonal collection released in collaboration with celebrated designer/makeup artist – Admittedly I don’t buy everything in a collection, only select few items.
Personally don’t buy all my products from a single location. Instead, I’ll buy their products from a wide variety of suppliers, all over the country, even overseas because product lines vary country to country, some products/shades aren’t sold here. I get to meet all the lovely people who believes in the products they’re selling, chat about stuff related to something I’ve discovered etc. It’s a wonderful experience. Over the years I have met lots of their staff and makeup artists, each of them have touched me in some way… Though I have yet to learn their art!!
Is this the end of an era?
For the last six to eight months Shu Uemura has been silently streamlining their brand visibility across London, various stores I once visited for my purchases have now closed and merged, not relocated like I initially thought. I first notice this when the Knightsbridge counter vanished from Harvey Nichols flagship store with minimum notice and I only found out about it cause I was restocking. During my transaction I was offered several full-sized products from their Stage Performer range and whatever samples they had left over… It felt like Christmas and they were encouraging me to buy more from them but no.. was it a silent ‘thank you’ for being loyal customer?
When I eventually made inquiries into what is happening? Many of the staff weren’t keen to discuss the details, others avoid the subject or simply replying “they didn’t know.” and that I needed to speak to their manager. Then I learn they’re closing in a few days/weeks — It’s almost seems like nobody really knows why or what’s going on with the brand. Most of the managers appears to be in the dark too, not even the managers other than some counters/stores they’re managing. I’m was originally wondering where they being relocated due to the lack of business? Re-branding? Later, I learnt from various reps I know and often deal with, Shu Uemura is set to close all it’s brand stores and counters throughout the UK before the end of the year! I have asked and currently nobody knows will they become a Selfridges exclusive, for now this remains a rumor. However what I do know is this, many customers who have been royal fan to the brand are angry and upset; myself included.
Quite often I check the Shu Uemura website for new releases but I’m discovering more and more of their stock showing “item out of stock” and have been for a while. I’m wondering will they ever replenish the stock?
Beauty counters that are going or already gone…
As Miss Wengie becomes the digital brand ambassador for L’Oreal’s Shu Uemura and their first boutiques opens in Sydney, Australia. L’Oreal UK is seemingly pulling their brand out of British market. These are the boutiques and beauty counters that I know are due close; there are others around the UK but I don’t have any dealing with them…
• Shu Uemura,
Trafford Centre (Manchester)
— closed towards the end of 2015. Staff at the neighboring counters suggest they weren’t as busy as they intentionally thought. But who knows?
• Shu Uemura,
— are said to be closing towards the end of the year and they won’t be stocking the 2016 Murakami Holiday Collection.
• Shu Uemura,
Harvey Nichols (Knightsbridge)
— closed some eight months ago without any explanation, all their stock was apparently moved to Selfridges to Oxford Circus.
• Shu Uemura,
Selfridges (Oxford Circus)
— is apparently closing first quarter 2017. Meant to be stocking Murakami Holiday Collection (Nov 2016)
• Shu Uemura,
Harvey Nichols (Manchester)
— Initially they told me they’re closing on 15th November 2016. But then they changed it, their last day of trading was Sunday 13th November.
• Shu Uemura,
— Staff there still doesn’t know when they’re closing but apparently they’ll be having the Murakami Holiday Collection in this Christmas, however, when I called they didn’t know when it’s going to be in.
[updated: As off Sunday 15th January 2017 the Liberty’s Store has now closed – Thanks Maria]
Future looks bleak
I speculate that there maybe a possibility that Shu Uemura will remain in the UK as online store mail-order store but I don’t think they’ll be giving any products samples with customer orders; though that’s remains to be seen. No one I’ve spoken to have said anything. I just know the brand is leaving the UK and their online store have little to no-stock available in it’s online inventory, that said, they could be really short of stock!
Umm.. NOPE. Then today, I noticed this.
Guess that means they’ve closed the official online store.
It’s sad.. but hey, I’ll keep using their products.
I’ll just have to import it from somewhere else! It’ll be the perfect excuse to travel more…