Victoria’s Secret adds Sun Center to Columbus area locations

Victoria’s Secret will open a store at 3626 W. Dublin-Granville Rd. next month, part of a campaign by the company and other retailers to open stores outside malls.

The store is due to open on October 21 at the Sun Center, a shopping center near Dublin which is also home to Bath & Body Works, Torrid, DSW, Whole Foods and Carter’s.

The Reynoldsburg-based lingerie brand operates out-of-mall stores in major cities, including New York and Chicago, and its Tanger Outlets and Easton stores are also walk-in. The upcoming Northwest Side store is part of the company’s goal to open 16 North American stores in primarily non-mall locations this year, according to a company earnings commentary.

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In 2021, as Victoria’s Secret became its own business, the retailer announced a refresh of its stores and a new “store of the future” design. The company plans about 14 renovations this year, more than half of which feature square footage reductions or consolidations at Victoria’s Secret and PINK stores.

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Lee Peterson, executive vice president of thought leadership and marketing at Dublin-based retail consultancy WD Partners, said the move to off-mall stores was smart and Victoria’s Secret was not alone. company to do so. In recent years, Columbus-based retailer Express has also had success with new out-of-mall stores.

Since opening a pop-up store in Upper Arlington in 2020, the retailer has opened five Express Edit stores and plans to open 11 in total by the end of this year. Express CEO Tim Baxter told analysts on a 2021 earnings call that new store concepts are “carefully selected” and tailored to each location.

Each Express Edit store ranges from 1,400 square feet to 4,500 square feet and is on a short-term lease to allow the retailer flexibility.

“Express Edit stores are strategically located in high-traffic, opinion-making destinations and diversify our brick-and-mortar fleet,” Baxter said on a call earlier this year. “These stores are acquiring new customers, reactivating old customers…and driving digital sales in surrounding zip codes.”

Express and Victoria’s Secret pull out of malls as indoor malls continue to struggle. Mall problems began before COVID, but have been greatly magnified during the pandemic, forcing some mall operators, including Columbus-based Washington Prime Group, to file for bankruptcy.

Peterson points to the WD Partners study “The Incredible Evolution of the Retail World,” which surveyed 2,700 Americans about their offline shopping habits. Of these, 37% said they would buy from a local brand or store when not buying online and 16% said they would buy from an over-the-counter store, while only 11% said they would shop at an indoor mall.

The mall exit is part of the ongoing evolution of Victoria’s Secret as it seeks to reinvent its public image away from its hypersexual reputation. Earlier this year, the retailer cut 160 leadership positions in a bid to “better align with an evolving consumer landscape” and position more resources toward high-growth, high-return initiatives.

Peterson said that for consumers, convenience and ease are now the most important factor when shopping. With the exception of a few very successful malls such as Easton, it makes more sense for Victoria’s Secret to move away from malls. “It’s a really smart move and a necessity,” he said.


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