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Business Continues To Boom At ULTA Beauty

CHICAGO (CBS) — Many struggling retailers are closing stores, but for Bolingbrook-based ULTA Beauty, business is booming.

Sales are up, totalling $4.9 billion last year and the company is aggressively opening new locations. CBS 2's Vince Gerasole spoke with ULTA's CEO about the makeup of that success.

When it comes to retail, ULTA Beauty is looking good. ULTA's been opening 100 new stores a year over the past several years. The company's 999th store on Michigan Avenue sales are up 14 percent.

"Our guests love to shop in store and online," said ULTA Beauty CEO Mary Dillon.

ULTA's online sales jumped 63 percent in the last quarter of last year, simultaneously the company plans to open up 700 additional brick and mortar stores, where customers are drawn to an impressive 500 beauty brands.

CBS: How is ULTA pulling it off?

"We offer something no one else offers," Dillon said.

"You come in, you will have an experience that's about touching products, smelling scents and looking at colors - and that's hard to do online, you will have services performed by human hands and we make it easy to shop online."

CEO Mary Dillon said ULTA invests time in researching what gets customers excited about beauty.

"What I am most proud of is we are creating a lot of jobs," Dillon said. "We are creating about 2,000 jobs a year because of our growth."

A good deal of the success followed Dillion's arrival 4 years ago.

"What I've added to it is culture and leadership," she said. "On our leadership team, we put our associates at the center of everything we do and we ask their opinion."

For example, her teenage years stacking products at a Darion Osco helped her understand their concerns.

"The act of stocking the shelves was more difficult than it needed to be," Dillon said.

CBS: So you listen to your associates on the floor?

"Yes is that radical," she laughed.

It's a culture where opinions from the front line impact the bottom line. Dillon might say that is beautiful.

"I don't take this for granted, what's happening here is the result of a lot of people doing a lot of great things."

ULTA offers nearly 20,000 products. Studying how customers enjoy encountering them in person, as well as ordering them online has been a key component to their success.

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