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Sephora to shut U.S. stores for diversity training after racial incident

Sephora to shut U.S. stores for diversity training after racial incident
FILE PHOTO: 2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals - Radio City Music Hall, New York, U.S., August 20, 2018. - SZA. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo -
Andrew Kelly(Reuters)
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NEWYORK (Reuters) – LVMH’s Sephora beauty chain said it will close all its U.S. stores, distribution centres and corporate offices on Wednesday to conduct diversity training for employees, a move that follows a racial incident involving a Grammy-nominated singer.

R&B singer SZA, who is black, said in April she was racially profiled at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California.

Sephora and LVMH representatives did not respond to questions on the reason for the training, which the company called “inclusion workshops.” Louis Vuitton owner LVMH is based in Paris.

SZA said a Sephora employee she identified as “Sandy” called security to make sure the singer was not stealing from the store.

“We had a long talk. U have a blessed day Sandy,” SZA said in a Twitter post.

“You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores,” Sephora said at the time in a response to the singer’s post.

SZA was quoted in an interview with U.S. digital publisher Refinery29 last year as saying she previously worked in the skin-care department at a Sephora store.

SZA is a Grammy nominee who also collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on the song “All the Stars” for the blockbuster movie “Black Panther.”

“We will never stop building a community where diversity is expected, self-expression is honoured, all are welcomed and you are included,” Sephora said on its website, while announcing the workshops.

After SZA’s tweet, Google reviews for the store spiked, with many users criticizing Sephora over the incident.

Barbadian singer Rihanna last month unveiled her new fashion brand with LVMH, a rare move by the French group to set up a label from scratch as it taps into soaring demand for celebrity collaborations in the luxury world.

Sephora’s workshops come about a year after Starbucks closed 8,000 stores across the country for anti-bias training after a Philadelphia cafe manager’s call to police resulted in the arrests of two black men who were waiting for a friend.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

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