Business Profile | Chuck Rubin

August 2012 View more


There’s nothing to blush about at Bolingbrook-based ULTA Salon, Cosmetics and Fragrances.  The beauty product and service retailer is riding a wave of success that includes impressive increases in both earnings and growth in addition to the recent announcement of plans to introduce a makeup line by the Kardashian sisters.  ULTA operates 467 retail stores in 42 states and distributes its products through the company’s website. It’s no surprise the attractive business model for ULTA is drawing the attention of Wall Street and Main Street thanks to the leadership and direction of President and CEO Chuck Rubin.  Rubin has been leading the nation’s largest beauty retailer for nearly two years. Naperville Magazine recently spoke with Rubin about his secrets to success and the challenges ahead for ULTA Beauty and the beauty products industry.


Your company, ULTA Beauty, has seen double-digit earnings and revenue growth in the last two years, while many other retailers have been forced to close their doors due to a very difficult economy. What is the secret to your success?

The source of our success is that we’ve created a store where women love to shop. ULTA Beauty stores have more than 20,000 products carrying everything from high-end Gucci perfume to Maybelline mascara, so a woman can find everything on her beauty list. Our stores are clean, bright, and upbeat, and our associates are not paid on commission, so the store environment is relaxing and fun for our guests. We’ve found that some women spend hours in our stores with their friends, talking about beauty and trying products, and I view that as a real testament to our brand. We also have full service salons inside every store where guests can get hair care, waxing, and nail services.

Your company offers cosmetics, fragrances, hair care and skin-care products, as well as a full service salon in each store.  How did the concept of combining beauty products and beauty services come together?

At ULTA Beauty, we spend a lot of time focusing on our guests: what she shops for, how she shops, the trends and styles she likes. Our goal is to create a one-stop shop where she can get all of her beauty and hair care products, in a store environment that is fun and inspiring, giving her information and tips on the latest trends and styles. The salons are a natural fit that add an extra element of convenience for our guests.   Last summer, we added a men’s grooming section to our stores called, The Men’s Shop.  Many women buy for the men in their lives and men do accompany our female shoppers, so this area is another convenience for all of our guests.

ULTA offers one-stop shopping for beauty products.  With so many new and unique beauty products being introduced on the market almost daily, how do you decide which products to carry?

ULTA Beauty carries a broad selection of more than 500 brands and more than 20,000 different products. We strive to create a product mix where women can find the core items that she likes, and also be inspired by new products that are constantly coming to market. We have an experienced team of buyers and close relationships with our brand partners in order to stock the best core products as well as the newest products and colors each season.

Like many industries, the retail industry seems to go through a variety of financial up’s and down’s. We are still slowly recovering from a major downturn. What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and the industry in the next 12 to 24 months?

Retail is a tough business. There are many challenges that we face, in terms of the overall economy, consumer spending habits, and increased competition from a wide variety of outlets.  That said, I feel that we’ve created something unique in the marketplace, and a store that will overcome the challenges ahead because of the way we’ve been able to reach and connect with our guests. We believe that our brand resonates with what our guest is shopping for and the way she likes to shop, which is a winning combination in the retail industry.

You were named ULTA CEO nearly two years ago.  What are some of your proudest accomplishments so far?

As CEO, I am certainly proud of my company, but in no way do I credit myself with ULTA’s success. I have a fantastic team that works hard every day towards ULTA’s success. I feel our proudest accomplishment is creating a store that has resonated with hundreds of thousands of women across the country. We make decisions every day on things like product assortment, fulfillment, technology, and personnel, all with the end goal of providing our customers with a top-notch experience, and we feel we’ve done a great job of that. I am also very proud of the growth that we’ve been able to achieve in the past few years, despite economic challenges. We’re now operating 467 stores, and in 2012 will have opened more than 100 new stores.

Photo courtesy ULTA Beauty and Salon