The chain first opened in the UK in 1996 and has since opened 52 stores across the country. The US launch is the first time it has branched out into international waters. "We held back opening in the US until we were in the position to launch in a meaningful way, rather than just dip a toe in," said Nicky Kinnaird, Space NK founder. In order to increase its foothold in the US premium cosmetics industry, Kinnaird is planning four further store openings in New York in the coming months, and is developing an American website to cast its net over a larger target audience. Retailing many premium beauty products from around the globe, the new store openings will no doubt worry competitors such as Sephora, the fragrance and cosmetic retail arm of France-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Sephora have a strong hold over the premium market - reporting a double-digit revenue growth in 2005 on a same store basis in the US. LVMH also said that Sephora had continued to build strong momentum in Europe as well as in the US. Sephora has also expanded in China. However, as it is showcasing more than 50 specialist brands and launching several skin care ranges that have yet to be released in the US, the Space store is going one step further than the traditional beauty store, and will provide facial treatment rooms for consumers to have a private consultation about their specific skin care routine. Kinnaird says the company is targeting the premium consumer, claiming to already have a client portfolio of high profile figures such as Cate Blanchett and Keira Knightley. Consumers increasingly have a higher disposable income, and are ready to pay upwards for brands that give a perception of quality, therefore premium products are a key driver in the body colour cosmetics segment. Guerlain, Estee Lauder, and Albion were among the companies launching premium products in the past quarter. Mintel predicts that this trend will continue, with designer brands leading both the fashion and beauty market.