As exclusive data reveals Superdrug has overtaken L’Oreal as the UK’s second-biggest beauty retailer, Retail Week sits down with Superdrug trading director Megan Potter to talk about the retailer’s recent performance, the rainy start to summer, Red Sea disruption and more

Megan Potter

Megan Potter started at Superdrug 16 years ago as a buyer for haircare. Since then, she has progressed to become the trading director at the health and beauty giant and heads the buying and trading teams within Superdrug’s core skincare, haircare and beauty categories.

It’s been an eventful year for the retailer, it was revealed last month that Superdrug was one of the fastest-growing beauty retailers in the UK, outpacing L’Oréal to become the second-biggest beauty retailer with the highest share in mass-market cosmetics, packing on 17% growth in the last year. 

Retail Week sat down with Potter to find out more about its growth as it celebrates its 60th year on the high street. 

Superdrug has grown rapidly in the past year, what has worked in this time? 

“I think a big part for us is our accessibility. We’re there for all types of customers on the high street with all types of budgets. It might be a premium perfume or a 60p makeup wipe – we’ve got everything and within that, I think our own brand is a massive strength for us because it offers high quality but at an affordable price point.  

“During the cost-of-living crisis, we’ve taken steps to make our own brand even more accessible. We’ve taken 20% VAT equivalent off our own-brand suncare and our own-brand oral care ranges. I think that’s helped our customers.  

“The strength of our beauty offering has been key. We’ve been growing sales in the mass beauty market far ahead of our competitors and I think we offer such a huge range of makeup brands at all price points.”

Superdrug has 40% market share in mass-market cosmetics, how is that segment growing and how did you achieve that share? 

“I’m very proud to say that we are currently number one in the market for mass makeup. We’ve never been in this position before, so that’s based on the year-to-date performance for the first four periods of the year. So it’s not based on the latest June read.

“I think probably a number of things have worked for us. We launched our own brand makeup range Studio London in 2022 and it became our fastest-growing own-brand range ever, and it’s proved very popular with our customers.

“Another thing that we’re good at is being able to react quickly to trends. If there are products that our customers are seeing on social media, we’re very quick to react. Our store beauty advisers are like our secret weapons. They’re trained to help customers find what they’re looking for and keep up to date with the trends on social media.”

Have you seen an impact on sales and footfall due to the wet summer so far? 

“May, in fact, was warmer year on year. So actually for May, we had a really good time. We didn’t see any negative impact and we saw sales growth on suncare and bronzing. June so far is definitely colder year on year but we haven’t seen an issue.

“We’re hoping that we’ll see decent growth in July and August. But at the moment, our trade hasn’t been impacted. I think one of the things that is helping us is our new store openings. We’ve opened in a lot of great locations like Brent Cross, Lakeside and Craigavon in Northern Ireland and because they’re such high-profile, big, mainstream locations, I think it has helped our performance.”

Have you seen an impact on the supply chain due to the Red Sea crisis and will it affect Christmas trading? 

“We foresee these things happening and we try and take steps. I think from our own-brand world, Jamie [Archer, own brand director] has been managing that and making sure that we’ve gone early with our pipeline so we don’t see any disruption at Christmas.

“From a brand supply partner bit, which is where my heartland is, we did this for the first time last year because two years ago, we saw disruptions from various sources like bottle shortages on perfume. So last year, we brought in all of our Christmas buys and all of the seasonal stock much, much earlier. We started placing orders with our suppliers early on in the season and then planned the intake throughout the summer. I’m very confident that we’re not going to be affected from a Red Sea perspective.”