First full-range Victoria’s Secret store draws 1000-person queue

Customers at Chadstone shopping centre started queuing up outside Victoria’s Secret at 5:30pm on Wednesday to be among the first to enter the lingerie retailer’s first full-range store in Australia.

By the time the doors opened in Melbourne at 9am on Thursday morning, the line was 1000-people long.

The 1300sqm Chadstone flagship is the first bricks-and-mortar store to offer a full range of Victoria’s Secret bras and underwear and Pink-branded loungewear in the country.

Until now, customers could only purchase a limited range of beauty, fragrance and accessories at the brand’s 21 stores in Australia, eight of which are in airport terminals.

To access the broader range, they had to order from the brand’s US website; however, the large volume of such orders demonstrated strong demand for the broader range locally, according to a source.

Victoria’s Secret is operated in the Australian market by Malaysia-based franchisee, Valiram. The franchisee was reportedly seeking a location for a second full-range store in October.

The Chadstone store is said to be similar in design and layout to Victoria’s Secret’s location on 5th Avenue in New York City and features the brand’s iconic pink-and-black colour scheme, wardrobe-style displays, bra fit experts and fashion show footage displayed on large screens.

Challenges at home

But while the brand has enjoyed a positive initial response to its expansion Down Under, Victoria’s Secret’s waning appeal in its home market of the US was apparent in its third-quarter results, reported last week.

Comparable sales were down 6 per cent in the third quarter of FY18, offsetting any gains from parent company L Brand’s other business, Bath & Body Works. Comparable sales were down 5 per cent for year-to-date trading in 2018.

L Brands was forced to book a US$80.9 million non-cash impairment charge related to certain Victoria’s Secret store assets in the quarter, and the board announced plans to halve the company’s annual ordinary dividend from US$2.40 to US$1.20.

On top of this, Victoria’s Secret found itself defending its brand and market position after Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands, made some controversial comments in a Vogue interview earlier this month about the lack of plus-size and transgender models in the brand’s annual fashion show.

One week later, Jan Singer announced she was stepping down from her role as chief executive of Victoria’s Secret. The company named John Mehas, formerly of Tory Burch, as the new CEO of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, effective early 2019.

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