Victoria's Secret to close 53 stores in 2019
CGTN

U.S. lingerie giant Victoria's Secret announced recently that it is planning to close 53 stores this year, due to declining sales.

Its parent company L Brands said Wednesday that the fourth-quarter turnover shows that sales at stores that have opened for at least a year fell seven percent. While the company's other brand, Bath and Body Works, is doing well.

The brand has been struggling in recent years. Last year, it closed 30 stores, despite the fact that it still has over 950 stores in the U.S.

According to a CNN report, the lingerie brand has relied on heavy promotions to draw customers, such as celebrity models and discounts during holidays. However, it has failed to adapt to consumer demand for "more custom-fitted bras and inclusive messaging and advertisements."

Meanwhile, the holiday discounts hurt the company's margins as well. According to the report citing GlobalData Retail analyst, the company lost 3.8 million customers during the two past years.

Customers shop at a Victoria's Secret Stores LLC store, a subsidiary of L Brands Inc., in New York, U.S. /VCG Photo

Customers shop at a Victoria's Secret Stores LLC store, a subsidiary of L Brands Inc., in New York, U.S. /VCG Photo

Besides, the brand's annual runway show has seen drops in ratings for years. Last year, 3.3 million people watched the fashion show when it was aired, down from 5 million in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, as per U.S. network ABC, which runs the show.

It has also drawn controversy as its senior creative Edward Razek said in an interview that he didn't think the show should feature transsexuals because it was "a fantasy." He had to apologize officially later due to the massive online outcry.

Victoria's Secret has also been eyeing to expand its market in China while moving its annual show to Shanghai in 2017. The brand has opened at least nine flagship stores in China. However, many Chinese customers has not shown as much interest as expected.

Many complained that the brand does not have any special fitting adjustment for its Asian customers, while many said that the designs presented on its shows has become less attractive year by year.

Supermodels walk the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City, U.S. /VCG Photo

Supermodels walk the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City, U.S. /VCG Photo

The rise of domestic lingerie startups has also been cutting into the market shares. By the end of 2018, China's e-commerce giant Taobao.com hatched about 30 original lingerie brands, with most of them offering customized designs catering to customers.

International competitors have also been planning to enter the Chinese market. Chinese company Fosun Group took full control of Wolford with 33 million euros in March last year, to boost its speed in entering the Chinese market.

Back home, Victoria's Secret is facing fiercer competition as well. According to a CNN report, the competition in lingerie industry has also increased in recent years, with startups like Adore Me and ThirdLove joining in with better-fitting bras.

The report cited U.S. analysts saying the company has not ruled out ending the fashion show or engaging in an inclusive market. But after being identified as a sexy brand with supermodels advertising it for the last 20 years, it would be hard for the company to shift course.