‘Traditional retail is the future’, says Victoria’s Secret chief

Victoria’s Secret’s Cardiff store.

Victoria’s Secret owner Les Wexner is focusing on bricks and mortar retail amid declining in-store sales, claiming that the allure of smartphone shopping will fade.

“The internet won’t kill stores,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re in the process of bouncing back from that. I don’t think [online] is a new norm.”

The share price of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, has collapsed by around 50% from a peak two years ago, wiping out $14 billion (£10bn) in shareholder value.

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In addition, Victoria’s Secret in-store sales fell 1% in December, where growth in its beauty and Pink business was more than offset by a decline in lingerie sales.

But L Brands chief executive still thinks that the future is the physical store.

In fact, Victoria’s Secret has increased its store count to about 3,000 in North America in recent years and has opened 23 stores in the UK since 2012.

Wexner said in the interview that it’s not Amazon’s fault for siphoning off shopping centre traffic. It’s the clothing chains themselves.

He claimed that fashion brands become their own undoing when their products are no longer compelling or their store environment is no longer enticing.

Wexner argued that smartphone-driven shopping will not be the “new norm.” In fact, he believes the technology has already peaked.

People go to malls to socialise, not just to shop, he said.

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