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  • Nick Monjo

Victoria’s Secret Q1 Sales -3.4%



Pink By Frankies Bikinis Honeysuckle Chiffon Top and Pink Wink Unlined Plunge Bra. Pink x Frankies and the Wink Bra drove improvements for Pink in the quarter according to VS CEO Martin Waters. 


Victoria’s Secret lost $3.64 million in the quarter ended May 4 as sales declined 3.4%. to $1.359 billion. In the same period last year the company earned $725,000 on sales of $1.407 billion.


Store sales in North America declined 7.2% to $729.1 million, from $785.8 million last year. Direct sales fell 3.4% to $448.8 million, from $464.5 million in the three months ended April 29, 2023. International sales rose by 15.6%, however, to $181.5 million from $157.1 million in the period last year. International sales “include consolidated joint venture sales in China, royalties associated with franchised stores and wholesale sales.”


In the conference call, CEO Martin Waters noted that for both the North American stores and direct sales, the quarter ended on a positive note. “From a stores perspective, we experienced significant improvement in traffic in April,” adding that digital sales outperformed stores “with April as the strongest month.” 


“Our combined Victoria’s Secret and Pink market share in the intimates category remained at about 20%. We were also encouraged to see our digital market share in both bras and panties” increased “along with our sports bra market share.” He summarized: “within the digital, up a nudge; stores down a nudge; sports bras showing growth for the first time in as long as I can remember, and solid performance in bras and panties.”


Waters continued: “Pink experienced improving sales trends throughout the quarter and April was the strongest month for the brand in the last several quarters, with bras, sleep and apparel as the best performing categories, helping to offset a slow start to the quarter.”


Pink’s improvements were “driven by strength in new merchandise, particularly Wink Bra, cinched corset. We had some success with flared bottoms.” He added, “the Pink x Frankies was big, sports bras have been good.” (Victoria’s Secret acquired a minority stake in Frankies Bikinis in 2022). 


Waters concluded: “still a way to go in Pink, it is under performing Victoria’s, but we feel like we’re getting there and making some progress.” Later he added that “It could not have been more off color. If we think about two years ago when we identified the problems in that business, the business had got away from the core of who the customer is. We want that customer to be collegiate, youthful, evolving, confident, optimistic. And the assortments that we had two years ago didn’t look like that at all. So, the team have been rebuilding. We have new talent in place who’ve been in place for the last 12, 18 months, and they’re really getting after it and re-energizing the entirety of the company.”


Commenting on the swim market, Waters noted that “we’re about flat to last year. However, we started late, we deliberately flowed swim later. So, we were playing catch up. I will tell you that April was terrific for swim. Swim has been difficult in the last couple of years across the board, which is hard to explain in the post-COVID era where people traveling more and going on vacation more.”


Company wide, Waters continued “our level of promotionality is up a nudge year-over-year, keeping pace with how we see the market in total,” where many other stores are also relying on promotions to drive business.

 

Victoria’s Secret is known for low priced panties and Waters indicated that will continue. “We’re not embarrassed to be promotional in panties, far from it. It’s a traffic driver for the business. We’ve worked very hard on the quality of our panties and there have been significant structural improvements to that business over the last six months or so.” 


Sports bras and activewear are categories where VS has found new success. “The response to us being in the sport business has been overwhelmingly positive,” Waters said, listing the results. “First, our sales compares to prior year significantly, very significantly, particularly driven by sports bras. Secondly, the response to social media and to our marketing is very positive, amongst the most positive that we have across the system. And the third is a bit like I said with promotions, the halo that it has to the business as a whole,” providing “more reasons for the customer to come to us.”


“As we know, sport is a well-shopped category, but we were wrong to have exited, wrong to have got out of that business. It’s taken us, frankly,  longer to get back into the sport business than we would have liked, but we’re now doing so with real conviction.” The new emphasis has resulted in “a market share uptick, already, in sports bras, which to see an instant reaction like that is particularly encouraging. So, more of the same for the balance of the year.”


 Waters spoke briefly about the recently acquired Adore Me business noting “Adore Me is going well. For the year, we’re on track for growth in sales and operating income.” 


Looking ahead, Waters said the company was “encouraged by April and the month of May was a solid start to the second quarter,” but added that for the full second quarter “we’re forecasting sales to decrease in the low-single digit range compared to the second quarter of 2023.” He said he expects “the broader intimates market in North America will remain promotional and could remain pressured throughout the first half. At this level of sales, we’re forecasting second quarter adjusted operating income to be in the range of $30 million to $45 million.” 


“For fiscal year 2024, we’re reaffirming our forecast and expect sales to be about $6 billion or down low-single digits to comparative 52 weeks from fiscal 2023. Our forecast assumes that trends improve throughout the back half of 2024. At this forecasted level of sales, we expect our adjusted operating income in 2024 to be about $250 million to $275 million.”


In the period February 3 to May 4, VS opened two and closed five company owned shops in the U.S., lowering its total to 805. The total number of company owned stores in Canada remained the same at 23. The number of stores in China, operated in a joint venture, rose by one to 71 in the period, while the number of partner-operated shops in other parts of the world rose by 10 to 473. The company continues to operate six Adore Me locations.

 

Waters pointed to the announcement last month that “the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is coming back in 2024. The show will deliver precisely what our customers have been asking for, the glamour, runway, fashion, fun, wings, entertainment, all through a powerful modern lens reflecting who we are today.” ­— NM


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