Limited Brands Inc.’s Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie chain known for its supermodels called “Angels,” is planning its first stores in Hong Kong, where surging demand from shoppers has sent retail rents to a record.
Limited Brands this year will open two 1,500-square-foot (139-square-meter) Victoria’s Secret shops at the International Finance Centre in the Central business district and at New Town Plaza, a favored stop for mainland Chinese shoppers in the city’s north, according to an e-mail from Robin Hoffman, a spokeswoman for Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands.
An influx of mainland Chinese visitors has fueled consumption of branded apparel and accessories in Hong Kong, which commands the world’s highest occupancy costs in some of its areas. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Gap Inc. are among international clothing labels that have opened flagship stores in the city in the past 18 months.
Both IFC and New Town Plaza malls are owned or part-owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., the world’s biggest developer by value.
Brenda Wong, a spokeswoman for Hong Kong-based Sun Hung Kai, declined to comment on its tenants.
Limited Brands’s shares rose 2 percent to $44.50 at the close in New York yesterday, the biggest gain since Jan. 15. The company yesterday reported fourth-quarter net income rose 14 percent as sales grew.
Limited Brands, while “very, very optimistic” about Victoria’s Secret’s potential outside of North America, has been measured in openings to ensure its stores run well, Chief Executive Officer Les Wexner said in an October presentation to investors.
“We’re very aware that China will be the biggest market on the planet at some point,” Martin Waters, president of international business at Limited Brands, said at the October investor meeting. “We just don’t feel pressured by the time to go and do that immediately. We’ve got so many building blocks to put in place.”
Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay overtook New York’s Fifth Avenue as the world’s most expensive retail location last year, with annual average shop rents reaching $2,630 per square foot at the end of June, a 35 percent increase from a year earlier, according to property broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc.
Hong Kong’s retail sales rose 9.8 percent in 2012 after gaining 25 percent a year earlier, according to the city’s census and statistics department.