(Filed Under Financial and General Interest News). “Victoria’s Secret stores April comparable store sales increased 2% on top of 8% last year,” declared Amie Preston, chief investor relations officer at Limited Brands, noting an increase for all the company’s stores in the month. But she admitted of Victoria’s Secret stores, “We are disappointed with our overall performance in April, particularly in bras. While we have seen strength in our core offerings, our recent introductions have not offset the volume from styles exited in the past 12 months.”
As a whole, with all divisions combined, “The company reported net sales of $660.5 million for the four weeks ended May 4, 2013, compared to net sales of $659.0 million for the four weeks ended April 28, 2012. In remarks that accompanied the April numbers release, Preston said “April comps were positively impacted by the additional selling day as a result of Easter moving into March. However, we believe April results were also negatively impacted by the pull-forward of Easter and Spring Break business into March, and this impact is difficult to quantify.” She added that “The April merchandise margin rate was down to last year,” and that “Inventories ended the month up 3% per square foot at cost.”
Summarizing the store activity during the month, Preston explained, “April began with continued focus on our Very Sexy collection and a focus on Pink’s Multiway Bustier Bra. The themes shifted mid-month to our Dream Angels collection.” During the month, “The merchandise margin rate declined significantly versus last year, driven primarily by the impact of the calendar shift as a result of the 53rd week in 2012. This calendar shift resulted in the accrual of costs related to our beginning of May customer mailing in April this year versus May last year. In addition, merchandise margin rates were negatively impacted by higher redemptions in our Secret Rewards program.”
She added that in the stores, “May will begin with a focus on our Multi-Way offerings, our Pink Lace Racerback and a focus on Mother’s Day in beauty. The themes will shift mid-month to our Flawless line.”
“At Victoria’s Secret Direct, April sales were down 4%, as growth in Pink, bras and sleepwear was offset by declines in the apparel category and shipping and handling revenue. The April merchandise margin rate was down to last year, driven by an increase in free shipping and other offers.”
“First quarter sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct were $359.1 million, down 6% to last year.”
“At La Senza, April comps were up 2%. The merchandise margin rate was up significantly to last year, driven by decreased promotional activity. First quarter sales were $72.8 million and comps increased 5%.” She added that “we are planning May comps up in the low single digit range.”
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