Victoria’s Secret makes plans for Ala Moana
Store will be five times bigger than average
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General Growth Properties announced yesterday that the retailer will open its first flagship Hawaii store in a 20,000-square-foot space on the mall level of Ala Moana Center.
Local retail analysts predict that the purveyor of lingerie, as well as cosmetics, sleepwear and apparel, will perform well in the state, where talk about bringing in Victoria's Secret has gone on for more than a decade.
The planned Victoria's Secret boutique is five times the size of the chain's average-size store on the mainland, and will carry a full line of modern, fashion-inspired collections, PINK and Sexy Little Things merchandise, as well as lounge-wear, intimate apparel and the VS beauty line of fragrances and cosmetics.
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The fashions, lingerie items and sleepwear in Victoria's Secret catalogs will be available in a retail store at Ala Moana Center.
Mall owner General Growth Properties announced yesterday that Victoria's Secret's flagship store in Hawaii is expected to open at Ala Moana Center in the fall of 2009.
The Victoria's Secret boutique will occupy a 20,000-square-foot space on the mall level and might involve the relocation of some existing retailers, though General Growth declined to say where.
That space is four times the size of an average Victoria's Secret, which is about 5,000 square feet.
"They've been on our wish list for nearly a decade," said Sharon James, regional vice president of marketing for General Growth, "and we're excited to bring this retailer to the islands, as many customers are very familiar with the powerful, world-famous brand associated with the Victoria's Secret name."
The announcement comes on the heels of the recent opening of a full-line Nordstrom department store in March, which had been some 15 years in the works, as well as a new wing featuring retailers such as J. Crew-on-the-Islands.
The Victoria's Secret boutique at Ala Moana is expected to carry a full line of its modern, fashion-inspired collections, PINK and Sexy Little Things merchandise, as well as lounge-wear, sleepwear, intimate apparel and the VS line of fragrances and cosmetics.
Victoria's Secret PINK, launched in 2004, is a line of lounge-wear, including sweats, sleepwear and underwear geared toward college students.
"They're a hot retailer in the U.S.," said retail analyst Stephany Sofos. "It'll be a winner for Ala Moana. Everybody has been talking about getting Victoria's Secret into Hawaii for at least 15 years."
Sofos said besides lingerie, Victoria's Secret is also a contemporary lifestyle shop with a strong following. She predicted success for the boutique, coming both from the local and visitor market.
The boutique grosses, on average, higher per-square-foot sales than other retailers, she said.
The average sales per square foot is $731, according to Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret.
Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands, which acquired Victoria's Secret in 1982, also owns Bath & Body Works, C.O. Bigelow, La Senza, White Barn Candle Co. and Henri Bendel.
Though Victoria's Secret has made a name for itself in lingerie, particularly signature bras such as the Miracle Bra, the Very Sexy bra and, most recently, the Biofit Uplift bra, it has also made a name for itself on fashion runways.
The retailer's goal, according to a recent conference with industry analysts, is to tone down its sexy image and to focus more on ultrafeminine lingerie. Victoria's Secret also announced plans last year to double its average U.S. store size to about 11,000 square feet and to begin selling sports apparel, like yoga pants, at retail stores.
"It's 30 years too late for me," said retail analyst Marty Plotnick, who recalls a detailed study was done for the retailer more than a decade ago.
Plotnick questioned the timing.
"I am on the conservative side as to retail growth in Hawaii in the next five years," said Plotnick. "It's the economy, the condition of the world situation and the elections coming up."
Plotnick said nevertheless, there will always be a swarm of curious customers for new-to-Hawaii stores, a phenomenon he says typically lasts 120 days.
Molly Watanabe, founder and publication director of SMART, a local fashion magazine, called Victoria's Secret one of a few popular mainstays of islanders' mainland trips.
"So many locals make it a point to visit these types of retailers while on the mainland: Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, Urban Outfitters, French Connection, to name a few." she said.
A number of local lingerie shops have gone by the wayside -- J. Boudoir is no longer at Ward Centers, nor is Morgan Beret, a high-end lingerie boutique that recently left Kahala Mall for an undisclosed new location.
Frederick's of Hollywood has been at Pearlridge Center since November 1980.
Most existing local lingerie retailers, however, seemed to welcome Victoria's Secret to Hawaii rather than to see it as competition.
"I'm so happy Victoria's Secret is opening," said Lana Ngo, owner of European Lingerie at Makaloa Plaza. "That means the customer has more choices for lingerie. I think I will sell more."
The first Victoria's Secret boutique opened at Stanford Shopping Center in California. It was founded in 1977 by Roy Raymond, a Stanford graduate student who was embarrassed trying to buy lingerie for his wife in large department stores.
First store: Stanford (Calif.) Shopping Center
First Hawaii store: Ala Moana Center (fall 2009)
Size of Hawaii store: 20,000 square feet
Average store size: 5,111 square feet*
Average sales per square foot: $731*
Number of stores: 1,003*
Net sales: $3.7 billion
Parent company: Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands
Brand lines: Very Sexy, PINK, BioFit, Angels by Victoria's Secret
*As of Feb. 3, 2007