September 19, 2021
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Victoria’s Secret tests new locations, new look for stores

By on July 21, 2021 0

Victoria’s Secret has changed the look of its stores over the past eight months, including the Polaris Fashion Place store. (JENNIFER MARTINI)

COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) – Victoria’s Secret is looking for spaces beyond traditional malls for its new stores.

The Columbus-based retailer, which is slated to leave L Brands Inc. and become a stand-alone business next month, shared its upcoming plans at a Virtual Investor Day earlier this week.

One of these initiatives is to explore new real estate opportunities that it had not considered in the past, including shopping malls and some non-mall locations. He’s tried both before – there’s a Victoria’s Secret and a Pink at Tanger Outlets in Sunbury, for example – but the leadership sees new potential in foot traffic away from the typical mall store.

CEO Martin Waters said 10 new test stores will open this year. Although they are located in discount focused stores, those in these outlets or value centers would not be clearance stores despite being located in these discount focused locations, he said. declared.

These 10 openings are in addition to the three “store of the future” tests that the company plans to open this fall, one of which will take place on a site outside the mall. Victoria’s Secret stores have traditionally been strongly linked to shopping malls – that’s where about 76% of the brand’s stores are located – but Waters said company executives see potential in non-mall stores. The footprint of current sister company Bath & Body Works is almost half of the non-mall locations.

Waters said these stores will not only have a new interior design, but also significant omnichannel capabilities and lower capital investment. The stores will be smaller than the 10,000 square feet and larger of the classic Victoria’s Secret boutique.

The CEO described it as a flexible environment where top sellers can be easily highlighted and slow sellers can be underestimated. Stores will also have more width and depth in sizes and popular items, and mannequins of different body types.

Curious customers don’t have to wait for these openings to get a glimpse of the brand’s new ideas. Most of the existing store fleet has been renewed over the past six months to incorporate at least part of the new approach.

“Almost all of the stores have been refreshed in one way or another,” Waters said.

He described the old look as dark and heavy without focusing enough on the actual products. The new stores are lighter, brighter and “make the product the hero”.

Victoria’s Secret had 867 stores in North America at the end of the first quarter. That’s down from 1,143 in 2018, but 94% of stores have positive cash flow.

Although shopping malls remain struggling in the wake of the pandemic, Waters said the company has completed negotiations with most of their owners and secured significant rent concessions.

Digital sales have grown in importance as the physical footprint shrinks with 44% of 2020 sales taking place online, a jump due to the Covid-19 pandemic from 25% in 2019.

In other Monday news, Waters also said the company is not abandoning its fashion show and may bring it back in a new, more “culturally relevant” form in the future.

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