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 1,640 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 more than a quarter of L Brands' sales.
More than 90% of BBW's sales are rung up at its retail stores. Online sales account for the remainder.
The US is BBW's primary market, home to roughly 1,570 of its 1,600-plus stores. The chain has more than 70 company-owned stores in Canada, which is a growing market for both BBW and parent L Brands. Beyond North America, there are 38 franchised BBW stores in nine countries in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Sales at BBW stores increased by 9%, to $2.9 billion, and operating income rose 18% in fiscal 2013 (ended January) versus the prior year. Same-store sales increased by 7%. Online sale grew 18%, while store sales rose 8%. Fiscal 2013 marked the third year of rising sales and profits for the chain, which 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.
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. While BBW has closed 35 stores in the US over the past two years, sales per square foot have risen, as the remaining stores become more productive. After opening 20 stores in the Middle East and Eastern Europe in fiscal 2013 (ended January), another 20 openings are slated for fiscal 2014.
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.