Victoria's Secret is an American retailer of women's wear, lingerie and beauty products. It is the largest segment of publicly-traded Limited Brands w.. read moreith sales surpassing USD$5 billion and an operating income of $1 billion in 2006. Victoria's Secret is known for its fashion shows and catalogues, which feature top fashion models.
In July 2004, company executives launched PINK, a lineup of loungewear, sleepwear, and intimate apparel geared mainly towards university and high school students. Alessandra Ambrosio was named the line's first spokesperson. PINK tours campuses around America setting up little mini stores outside for the students to purchase items from. The company markets to youth through MySpace, Facebook, partnerships with MTV, and youth-oriented blogs. The brand has received worldwide nomination for best in the category performance year to year for the past two years. Behati Prinsloo is the current spokesperson for Victoria's Secret Pink, replacing Miranda Kerr. Since early 2008, Jarah Mariano has been appearing in much of their advertising.
Victoria's Secret was started in San Francisco, California, in 1977 by Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus Roy Raymond, who felt embarrassed trying to purchase lingerie for his wife in a public and awkward department store environment. He opened the first store at Stanford Shopping Center, and quickly followed it with a mail order catalog and three other stores. The stores were meant to create a comfortable environment for men, with wood-paneled walls, Victorian details and helpful sales staff. Instead of racks of bras and panties in every size, there were single styles, paired together and mounted on the wall in frames. Men could browse for sexy styles for their girlfriends so they could get "down and dirty" and then sales staff would help estimate the appropriate size, pulling from inventory in the back. In 1982, after 5 years of operations, Roy Raymond sold the company to The Limited.
The Limited kept the personalized image of Victoria's Secret intact. Victoria's Secret was rapidly expanded into the U.S. malls throughout the 1980s. The company was able to vend a widened range of products such as shoes, evening wear, and perfumes among others with its mail catalog issued eight times annually.
By the early 1990s, Victoria's Secret had become the largest American lingerie retailer topping one billion dollars.
On 10 July 2007, Limited Brands sold 75% of Limited clothing chain to firm Sun Capital Partners to focus and boost sales growth on Victoria's Secret lingerie stores and Bath & Body Works units which provided 72% of revenue in 2006 and almost all the firm's profit. There are 1,000 Victoria's Secret lingerie stores and 100 independent Victoria's Secret Beauty Stores in the US, mostly in shopping centers. It sells brassieres, panties, hosiery, cosmetics, sleepwear, and much more. Victoria's Secret mails more than 400 million of its catalogues per year. Under pressure from environmentalist groups, Victoria's Secret's parent firm and a conservation group have reached an agreement to make the lingerie retailer's catalogue more environmentally friendly in 2006. The catalogue will no longer be made of pulp supplied from any woodland caribou habitat range in Canada, unless it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The catalogs will also be made of 10 percent recycled paper from post-consumer waste.
Victoria's Secret is now building its image with a fairly conservative, middle-class shopper in mind and avoids any connotations of sleaziness that lingerie might carry.
The company gained notoriety in the early 1990s after it began to use supermodels in its advertising and fashion shows. Throughout the past decade, it has refused to follow the celebrity trend, turning down at least one celebrity a month begging to model the brand.
Victoria's Secret makes use of a rigorous customer service model, stressing upselling, frequent staff attention, and signing customers up for a store credit card that provides discounts for frequent shoppers in the way of coupons by mail and free merchandise.