Victoria Secret Shuts Down Flagship Vancouver Store, Eyes New Location

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Victoria secret shuts down flagship vancouver store! It has permanently closed its flagship store in downtown Vancouver at 750 Burrard St. The two-storey, 35,000 square foot location at the corner of Robson and Burrard officially shuttered last weekend after operating for over 10 years.

The luxurious lingerie retailer made a splash when it first opened the massive store back in August 2013. At the time, it was Victoria Secret’s second largest store in North America and attracted legions of fans on opening day. Over the years, the prominent corner location hosted visits from Angels Lindsay Ellingson and Jasmine Tookes.

Victoria Secret Shuts Down Flagship Vancouver Store, Eyes New Location
Victoria Secret Shuts Down Flagship Vancouver Store

Victoria Secret Downtown Vancouver

However, in recent years Victoria’s Secret has faced challenges and seen declining sales. Parent company L Brands announced plans in 2020 to reduce the number of Victoria’s Secret stores in Canada due to pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the country, 13 locations closed including stores in Calgary, Richmond Centre and Winnipeg.

The brand has faced criticism over its focus on unrealistic body images and lack of diversity in its models and products. Competitors like Aerie and ThirdLove offering more size inclusivity and positive messaging have chipped away market share. The rise of online shopping and fast fashion brands have also disrupted Victoria’s Secret’s business model.

So it likely wasn’t a huge surprise when the lease expired on the massive prime Vancouver real estate. But locals will certainly miss the opulent décor and over-the-top Victoria’s Secret aesthetic.

What Comes Next for the Retail Space?

The prominent corner location has a long history of housing retail flagships in Vancouver. Prior to Victoria’s Secret, it was home to Virgin Megastore and HMV music stores from 1996 to 2012. Before that, it served as the downtown central branch of the Vancouver Public Library from 1957 to 1995.

Given its legacy as a prime piece of real estate, speculation is swirling over what retailer could move into 750 Burrard St. While Victoria’s Secret plans a smaller new location at nearby CF Pacific Centre, the 35,000 square foot flagship space leaves big shoes to fill.

Rumours suggest a major international retailer with a strong balance sheet is preparing to take over the lease. But no official announcement has been made by property manager Morguard. The new tenant would follow extensive renovations by Victoria’s Secret in 2012 that updated interiors while retaining the building’s heritage exterior.

Some suggest the new retailer may also face the same market challenges that plagued Victoria’s Secret and Nordstrom’s recently shuttered downtown location. But on one of the city’s most prominent shopping corridors, the right tenant could develop another flagship store to attract luxury shoppers.

Victoria Secret Downtown Vancouver
Victoria Secret Downtown Vancouver

The History of 750 Burrard St.

To understand the significance of 750 Burrard St. for local shopping, it’s important to take a closer look at the various retail flagships it has housed over the decades:

Vancouver Public Library (Central Branch) – 1957 to 1995

For almost 40 years, the prominent building at Burrard and Robson served as the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library system. Generations of Vancouver residents accessed books, periodicals, music and more at the central downtown location. While the central branch relocated in 1995, today it continues to anchor the Library Square campus as part of the Federal office tower.

Virgin Megastore – 1996 to 2002

When Virgin Megastore took over the space in 1996, it brought a huge two-storey music retail hub to downtown Vancouver. As the only Megastore location in Canada, it served music fans with CDs, DVDs, electronics and even concert tickets. Virgin helped cement Robson Street as a shopping destination until financial troubles forced its closure in 2002.

HMV Music Store – 2002 to 2012

HMV immediately took over the Virgin space in 2002, turning it into the largest HMV in Canada. Continuing the legacy as a downtown music shopping hub, HMV later faced its own fiscal challenges due to disruption from digital music and online shopping. The iconic HMV signage remained a Robson Street staple for a decade.

Victoria’s Secret Flagship Store – 2013 to 2023

When Victoria’s Secret moved into 750 Burrard St. in 2013, renovations optimized the space for the retailer’s needs. Some changes included removing a mezzanine for higher ceilings, reconfiguring the CTV Globemedia lobby, and extending upper floors for offices. As Victoria Secret’s second biggest location in North America at the time, it cemented Robson Street as a luxury shopping destination.

Victoria Secret Downtown Vancouver
Victoria Secret Downtown Vancouver

What’s Next for Robson Street’s Retail Scene?

While 750 Burrard St. is sure to house another flagship retailer soon, its closure contributes to bigger changes happening on Robson Street. The impacts of online shopping, the pandemic and shifting consumer demands have hit luxury brands hard.

In 2022, Seattle-based Nordstrom closed its Pacific Centre department store after lacklustre sales. The 230,000 square foot space remains vacant. Meanwhile neighbouring Holt Renfrew also scaled back operations in recent years with its 100,000 sq ft flagship location.

So it remains to be seen what retail tenant can harness Robson Street’s potential going forward. But as downtown Vancouver presses reset post-pandemic, the opportunity exists to reimagine one of Canada’s most famous shopping thoroughfares. Flagship stores like 750 Burrard St. will play a crucial role in that future.

Analyzing Victoria’s Secret’s Challenges in Vancouver

While a new retailer prepares to take over 750 Burrard St., Victoria’s Secret faces an uncertain future in Vancouver. The local market grew saturated with retailer locations catering to a narrow customer demographic. And as preferences shifted, the brand didn’t keep up.

Retail analyst David Gray suggests that in better days, Victoria’s Secret overbuilt locations in Canada. But demand never returned to pre-pandemic levels amid growing online competition.

The flagship Vancouver store exemplified that problem – originally conceived as one of their largest showpieces but no longer practical in this market. As a result, parent company L Brands has been quietly rationalizing Victoria’s Secret’s Canadian operations.

This includes eliminating lease renewals at underperforming stores and relocating to smaller spaces. The Pacific Centre location will allow Victoria’s Secret to right-size within downtown Vancouver. But cooling interest from local shoppers ultimately necessitated closing the cavernous Robson Street flagship.

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How Key Factors Led to Victoria Secret’s Decline

Analyzing L Brands financial reports and Victoria’s Secret’s brand history reveals how problems emerged over the past decade:

Narrow Brand Messaging – Victoria’s Secret built an empire showcasing ultra-thin models as embodiments of female sexuality. But many shoppers began seeing this portrayal as unrealistic and exclusionary. The underrepresentation of women of colour and non-straight sizes also attracted criticism.

Rise of Inclusivity-Focused Competition – Meanwhile brands like Aerie and ThirdLove directly called out Victoria’s Secret’s lack of diversity in ad campaigns and products. Offering a wider array of sizes and real women as models let them capture market share. Savvy digital marketing enhanced their popularity with millennials.

Failure to Innovate – Sticking to its narrow brand image too long, Victoria’s Secret did little to address shoppers’ concerns. Selections focused on push-up bras, padding and sex appeal failed to align with demand. The growth of athleisure wear also disrupted Victoria’s Secret’s specialty.

Supply Chain & Inventory Issues  – Well before the pandemic, L Brands struggled with supply chain problems leading to inefficient distribution and excess inventory. Coupled with declining sales, this created a financial burden making cost-cutting necessary.

Pandemic Pressures – As consumer preferences rapidly evolved, COVID-19 accelerated problems for retailers clinging to outdated business models. Facing temporary store closure alongside plunging sales, Victoria’s Secret Canada was slated for “right-sizing”.

While Victoria’s Secret works on revamping branding and operations going forward, missteps made the flagship Vancouver location unsustainable. Geographic overexpansion, failure to pivot and shopping shifts necessitated closing 750 Burrard St.

Downtown Vancouver Retail : Renewed Potential Post-Pandemic

As prominent downtown storefronts change tenants, Vancouver has an opportunity to learn from past miscalculations. Brands relying too heavily on tourists failed to connect with locals seeking experiences reflecting the city’s creative diversity.

Post-pandemic openings like Indigo, Aritzia and Canada Goose show promising signs. Combining online convenience with innovative in-store engagement can resonate with post-COVID shoppers. Omnichannel retail can still harness Robson Street’s high foot traffic.

Downtown Vancouver retains advantages like accessibility via transit, office towers and growing residential density nearby. Recovery may require rebuilding consumer confidence through reinvention addressing local values. Symbolic spaces like 750 Burrard St. could lead that charge with the right tenant.

If Victoria’s Secret’s playbook grew outdated for Vancouver shoppers, a newcomer can write the next chapter. The return of music retail or a long-coveted fashion brand could transform not just 750 Burrard St. but revive Robson Street’s reputation. It represents a chance to reshape downtown shopping for residents while attracting tourists seeking a quintessentially Vancouver experience.

FAQs on Victoria Secret Shuts Down Flagship Vancouver Store

Why did the Victoria’s Secret on Robson Street close?

The Victoria’s Secret store closed as the company faces declining sales and is reducing its number of stores in Canada. The pandemic accelerated problems for the brand and the expensive prime lease on Robson Street likely didn’t make financial sense anymore.

When did it close?

The downtown Vancouver Victoria’s Secret closed quietly in mid-January 2023. The last day of operation was on Saturday, January 14th.

Is Victoria’s Secret leaving Vancouver altogether?

No, Victoria’s Secret plans to open a new but likely smaller store within nearby CF Pacific Centre shopping mall in downtown Vancouver.

What used to be in the Victoria’s Secret building?

The heritage building at 750 Burrard St housed the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library from 1957-1995. After that it was home to Virgin Megastore and later HMV music stores before Victoria’s Secret moved in.

What will replace Victoria’s Secret on Robson Street?

It’s not yet confirmed what retailer will take over the lease at 750 Burrard St. Rumors suggest a major international brand is preparing to move in but no official announcement has been made yet.

Is Nordstrom reopening in downtown Vancouver?

No immediate plans for Nordstrom to reopen downtown. After closing its Pacific Centre location in 2022, the space remains vacant. However, Simons is rumored to be taking over part of the vacant Nordstrom space.

What does this mean for the future of Robson Street shopping?

The closure provides opportunity to reimagine Robson Street shopping post-pandemic. But it also depends on bringing in the right tenants to high profile spaces like 750 Burrard St to revive the strip’s reputation as a luxury destination.

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