By  on November 30, 2017

Investors traded into L Brands Inc. after the company said fewer promotions in its Victoria’s Secret business slowed comparable sales, but resulted in better margins.Shares of the company, which also owns Bath & Body Works, rose 6.7 percent to $56.05 on Thursday.Victoria’s Secret’s November comps, including both its store and web business, slid 6 percent, after a 5 percent gain a year earlier. (For the year so far, the brand’s comps are down 10 percent compared with a 2 percent gain.)The brand is in the midst of what has been a painful evolution, which included the elimination of many promotions as well as the exit of swim and apparel, which shaved 1 percentage point off comp sales in November.In a recorded call on November results, Amie Preston, chief investor relations officer, said: “The merchandise margin rate was up significantly, driven by the reduction in promotional activity. Margin dollars were about flat to last year and in line with expectations.”Looking at L Brands overall, she noted, “Thanksgiving weekend results met our expectations with total sales from Thursday through Monday up in the low single-digit range.”Direct sales from the Thanksgiving weekend will be recognized in December.L Brands is being reimagined by chief executive officer Leslie Wexner — the company’s 80-year-old founder, who’s sometimes credited with inventing specialty retailing and remains a retail believer, with some caveats.“Retailing looks pretty good to me,” Wexner told investors recently. “Department stores are kind of in a death spiral….Some developers are smarter than others, but some are actually paying department stores that are lingering, [saying], ‘Leave now, so we can use the space.’ There’s a fair number of centers where department stores have closed and things got better.”Alternatively, he said the forward-looking specialty crowd is winning, pointing to categories of beauty, lingerie, sport and food.“It’s never been better at retail and department stores are really bad and old-fashioned, fashion specialty stores are really, really bad,” Wexner said.

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