Victoria's Secret Stores is not hush-hush, but it is unmentionable(s). The largest subsidiary of L Brands (more than 40% of sales) is also North America's #1 specialty retailer of women's intimate apparel, operating about 1,035 mostly mall-based Victoria's Secret and Victoria's Secret Pink shops throughout the US and Canada. Bras, panties, hosiery, swimwear, shoes, and more are sold under the Victoria's Secret brand and grouped in collections such as Angels and Very Sexy. Many Victoria's Secret lingerie stores also sell beauty products. The chain's youth-oriented PINK brand targets teens and younger women with less-racy bras and panties, as well as sweats and hoodies and beauty products.
Beyond North America, more than 55 Victoria's Secret Beauty and Accessories Stores (formerly Victoria's Secret Travel and Tourism Stores) are operated by partners, primarily at airports and tourist destinations. Another 75 Victoria's Secret Beauty and Accessories Stores are slated to open in 2012. Also in 2012 two company-owned main-chain Victoria's Secret stores are slated to open in London, and three partner-operated stores will debut in Dubai and Kuwait City.
Victoria's Secret Stores is the star performer among L Brands' retail businesses. In fiscal 2012 (ends January) and 2011 sales increased 14% and 15%, respectively, vs. the prior years, and its stores are logging double-digit same-store sales increases. Indeed, sales topped more than $4.5 billion in 2012 as women continued to indulge in lingerie and beauty products after cutting back during the recession. The chain's ongoing expansion in Canada and the growing popularity of the PINK brand among younger women have helped to boost sales.
Canada is a growth market for Victoria's Secret Stores and the first stop on the parent company's international tour. It operates about 20 stores there, including both Victoria's Secret Pink and Victoria's Secret flagship shops. More are planned. Limited Brands (L Brands' prior name) kicked off its international expansion with the purchase of the La Senza chain in Canada in 2007. While the entry of Victoria's Secret Stores into Canada has the potential to siphon off sales from La Senza stores, the two chains cater to slightly different markets, with Victoria's Secret racier merchandise priced a bit higher the La Senza's. (Also, La Senza was a disappointment for Limited Brands, posting sales declines in 2012 and previous years.) The youth-oriented PINK brand (launched 2004) has established itself as a successful feeder brand for Victoria's Secret. Its aim is to capture teen and college-age female customers in the hope that when they mature they'll move on to the sexier styles offered by its big sister brand. PINK is sold in freestanding stores as well as Victoria's Secret shops. While the company doesn't break out PINK sales, the brand is meeting stiff competition from American Eagle's Aerie brand and Gilly Hicks by Abercrombie & Fitch. Both also target the youth market.
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