VS Beauty Looks to Build Brands

NEW YORK — Victoria’s Secret Beauty, a division of Limited Brands Inc., is refocusing its energies in a bid to accelerate growth.

The beauty division of the lingerie brand has mapped out a program to accelerate product innovation and spur penetration, especially of nonfragrance categories, by leaving the duties of day-to-day store operation to the apparel staff.

This will free up resources to allow a more aggressive development of the beauty brands, according to executives. It also will result in a more unified, consistent approach to in-store operation.

The company does not break out projections, but industry sources indicate the new plan calls for a doubling of sales within three to five years, similar to what happened in the last five years. Sales of Victoria’s Secret Beauty are estimated by sources to be at $850 million for last year. That compares with $450 million five years ago.

Victoria’s Secret merchandises beauty in 1,000 stores. Of these, 500 are classified as side-by-side and stand-alone stores, with the number of freestanding units amounting to only 75. This group also includes large apparel flagships, like the door on 34th Street in New York, which contains a large beauty department. The remaining 500 stores are lingerie units containing limited niche fragrance presentations.

“The rationale is to have one face of the brand for the customer; it’s all about Victoria’s Secret, the megabrand,” said Sherry Baker, who as president co-manages Victoria’s Secret Beauty with Jill Granoff, chief operating officer. Baker said the motive is to “optimize the consumer experience” by integrating the merchandising of lingerie and beauty into one seamless vision.

Once the beauty staff is freed of the need to manage stores, there will be more resources to concentrate on merchandise content, which, theoretically, can lead to an “acceleration of innovation and increase the speed to market” with a stream of new products.

Previously, beauty personnel ran those stores while the fashion staff oversaw the lingerie units. Now, the apparel division will run all the stores, with strong input from the beauty staff.

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