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Global retailer rumoured to be leasing former Vancouver Victoria's Secret space

Retail asset manager Morguard not confirming new tenant
Pedestrians earlier today endure snow as they pass an entrance to the closed Victoria Secret location at the corner of Robson and Burrard streets | Chung Chow

With workers clearing the inside of the 35,000-square-foot former Victoria's Secret store at the corner of Robson and Burrard streets, rumours are swirling that a large global retailer is set to take its place. 

BIV has learned from a credible source that the situation at Robson and Burrard streets is unlike that of the one a few blocks east, where Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN) last summer closed its 230,000-square-foot location at CF Pacific Centre – space that remains vacant.

American lingerie giant Victoria's Secret & Co. (NYSE:VSCO) let its lease expire at 969 Robson Street, and a new retailer has been planning to occupy the space for a while, a credible source told BIV. The person said that the new retailer is a public company that has a stronger balance sheet than does Victoria's Secret, but was unable to reveal the name of the new tenant. 

In its most recent quarter, ended Oct. 28, Victoria's Secret lost US$71 million. 

BIV tried to confirm details of the new tenant with the site's asset manager, Morguard, and about what construction may take place, but did not get answers by press time. An interview request with Morguard's regional general manager Michael Walker was also not filled.

Instead, Morguard sent an email to say, "We will need more time to prepare a statement." 

When Victoria's Secret in 2012 started to occupy what was the company's second-largest store in North America, the structure was renovated.

The exterior of the building stayed largely the same, but the inside changed dramatically.

A mezzanine level was replaced with higher ceilings. Another change related to the part of the building that houses CTV and the Globe and Mail.

The entryway lobby to the CTV offices became part of the 15,000-square-foot main level for Victoria's Secret. A 20,000-square-foot floor below stayed intact.

The high ceilings in the lobby entryway to CTV were reduced and the third and fourth floors were extended. CTV at the time consolidated on the fourth and fifth floors while the Globe and Mail at the time leased half of the third floor.

The 1956-built designated heritage building has had past incarnations that include housing the Vancouver Public Library, and then a succession of recorded-music stores: Virgin and HMV. 

DIG360 owner and retail analyst David Gray told BIV that Victoria's Secret "overbuilt in better days and demand has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, amidst more and more online and store-based competition."

He added that he thinks Victoria's Secret has lost its lustre and that is why it quietly closed its downtown Vancouver store last weekend.

"They are having to rationalize operations, which includes reducing their store footprint, with selected closures and relocations," he said. 

"In the case of Robson Street, it was one of the largest stores in their network, which does not make sense for our market size," he said. "The lease came due and they are giving it up to move to a presumably smaller location in Pacific Centre."

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