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Limited Eyes Expanding Body & Bath Works Overseas

NEW YORK -- The Limited Inc. is considering rolling out its fast-growing Bath & Body Works division to Europe and Asia within 12 to 24 months, according to reports.<BR><BR>The Limited currently operates buying offices overseas and has six...

NEW YORK — The Limited Inc. is considering rolling out its fast-growing Bath & Body Works division to Europe and Asia within 12 to 24 months, according to reports.

The Limited currently operates buying offices overseas and has six Penhaligon’s stores in London but does not have a major retail presence outside the U.S.

According to one Wall Street analyst, Bath & Body Works could have 500 units or more overseas, through a franchise, license or joint venture arrangement. Analysts noted that the company is also accelerating the division’s domestic expansion.

“The market is wide open,” said another analyst. Bath & Body Works is The Limited’s hottest division, with volume expected to hit $250 million by the end of 1994 and $475 million by the end of 1995, compared to $125 million at the end of 1993. Profitability is the highest in the corporation, at 15.5 percent last year.

The chain, which sells personal care products, is 3 1/2 years old and is seen ending the year with 320 units, compared to about 200 at the end of 1993.

As reported, the division is launching in July a new line of bath products called Health & Beauty Farm.

The Limited will hold its annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on May 23. Officials could outline growth plans at that point. Analysts expect more news from the Victoria’s Secret catalog, which offers sportswear, ready-to-wear and intimate apparel. The division launched earlier this year an offshoot catalog specializing in swimwear, and now analysts are expecting the division to develop additional niche catalogs.

The Limited could not be reached for comment.