Women turn to Bath & Body Works (BBW) to help wash away the daily stresses of life. A subsidiary of L Brands, BBW operates more than 1,650 stores throughout North America and an online shop. The company sells shower gels, lotions, antibacterial soaps, home fragrance and accessories under its own BBW brand, as well as the C.O. Bigelow and White Barn Candle Co. brands. Customers in need of rejuvenation can also find a line of aromatherapy and at-home spa treatments, and in some stores, extra indulgences such as massages and pedicures. The BBW brand has had an image makeover, from country-inspired to a modern-day apothecary of beauty. BBW accounts for about a quarter of L Brands' sales.
Beyond North America, there are some 20 independently owned BBW stores operated by a franchisee in six countries in the Middle East, a dozen of which opened in 2011. Another 32 such stores are slated to open in the coming year.
Fiscal 2012 (ends January) sales at BBW increased 6% vs. the prior year, with sales at stores open at least a year up 6%. Operating income rose 22% over the same period. The chain's financial performance in 2012 mirrored that of 2011, both good years for the business. The company credits its strong performance to sales growth of its Signature Collection (including the re-launch of the men's line), home fragrance, and antibacterial merchandise categories. While the beauty retailer's store count declined by about 20 locations in the US in fiscal 2012 , it added 10 stores in Canada, a growth market for the company.
The company's strategy is to extend the BBW brand to new channels and markets. To that end, it is growing its international presence through franchise partners while continuing to add company-owned stores in Canada. Since entering the Canadian market in 2008, BBW has grown to number more than 70 stores there. To drive traffic to its e-commerce site -- BathandBodyWorks.com -- the chain offers online exclusives. The website serves the North American market, Eastern Europe (Turkey and Russia), and the Middle East. As L Brands has shed businesses -- including its former namesake Limited Stores chain -- BBW, its bra-and-panty sister chain Victoria's Secret, and La Senza (in Canada) have become its core businesses.
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