MEXICO CITY — “They are going to make many brands tremble.”
That is how Sears de Mexico’s lingerie buyer Maria Eliazar described Victoria’s Secret’s arrival in Mexico, adding that competitors such as Vicky Form and Leonisa are already fashioning new competitive strategies to take on L Brands’ megachain.
Victoria’s Secret opened its first full-assortment store in Mexico City late last month, also marking its Latin American debut, according to a spokesman.
L Brands opened the 10,760-square-foot shop in partnership with Mexican retail franchiser Grupo Axo, which operates 17 Victoria’s Secret Beauty & Accessories standalone stores in Mexico and three standalone units in Chile, with an additional four corners in Chilean department-store chain Falabella.
The Mexico City flagship will carry all of Victoria’s Secret’s lines, including Body by Victoria, Very Sexy, Dream Angels, Bombshell and cotton lingerie and Victoria Sport. It will also stock teen line Pink and the brand’s main fragrances and VS Fantasies and Pink beauty products, according to the company.
Bras will retail for up to $80 and fragrances for up to $85, according to Janet Torres, a marketing executive at Grupo Axo, who added merchandise will be imported from the U.S., with collections arriving one month after hitting stores in America.
Victoria’s Secret and Axo would not provide financial forecasts or comment on future regional strategy.
The shop’s design “takes glamor and sophistication to another level,” with a modern, “flashy pink” facade and huge background screens beaming Victoria’s Secret runway shows, the company said.
While its arrival creates major competitive challenges for local retailers, Victoria’s Secret will face growing pains of its own.
“Mexican women love and are fascinated by Victoria’s Secret products but the high price point will be a limitation” in a country still dominated by lower-to-middle-class shoppers, said Eliazar, adding that Mexico’s Vicky Form, which sells “sensual and daring” underwear, could continue to gain market share through more affordable prices.
However, Vicky Form, which is targeting 2,500 doors by 2018, lacks Victoria’s Secret’s design capabilities.
“They try to copy it [Victoria’s Secret] but they can’t land the concept as such and end up doing it halfway,” said Eliazar, who expects Sears’ lingerie sales to rise 20 percent this year, matching 2015. Vicky Form and Leonisa, a fast-growing Colombian brand in Mexico, are both working on new strategies to take on Victoria’s Secret, said Eliazar, which carries both labels in the Sears network.
“The other day, Leonisa told me they are coming up with new and more daring lines for next year,” Eliazar said, adding that the brand’s control and shapewear products are performing “excellently” in Mexico.
Victoria’s Secret will also compete with other fast-growing Colombian brands such as Kibys and Ilusion and Mexico’s new higher-end label Florentina, said observers.
Mexican retail consultant Miguel Angel Andreu agreed price will be an obstacle in a country where only about 10 percent of women are willing to spend more than $100 on a bra. “Victoria’s is opening in Mexico because they already have a market with women who travel to the U.S. and know them,” Andreu said.
However, that premium segment is small, he cautioned. “Their first store is probably going to sell exponentially, but when they venture into Guadalajara and Monterrey they will face more challenges.”
In related news, Andreu said Mexico’s clothing retail market grew 16 percent from January to July with roughly 12 percent of that coming from local brands and 4 percent from imported labels.
A strong dollar is fueling strong remittances growth from Mexicans living in the U.S., fueling local consumers’ purchasing power and offsetting weaknesses in other parts of the economy, he added.