By  on July 9, 2007

While apparel sales have generally been lackluster for the past year with the exception of the luxe sector, Victoria' Secret, the $5.1-billion intimate apparel phenomenon, recorded strong results in 2006, according to Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and chief executive of parent The Limited Inc., in its annual report.

Overall, 2006 sales jumped 16 percent, and operating income rose 8 percent. Victoria' Secret operates 1,001 stores nationwide with average sales of $731 a square foot, but the crown jewel now is the lingerie retailer' direct business, which includes its glossy catalogues and state-of-the-art e-commerce operation, which fueled a "phenomenal year" in 2006, said Wexner. Direct sales skyrocketed 16 percent, and a "significant increase" spurred operating income.

The victoriassecret.com Web site has been steadily growing by 10 percent each year for several years, according to industry sources. A main reason is that the vampy and user-friendly site is supported by an advertising and marketing budget that' estimated to be between 5 and 6 percent of total company revenues. The site features a well-organized menu of everything in a sexy, playful format, ranging from Victoria' Secret Technology and the new Secret Embrace bra to a Bra Guide, and a rundown of bra classifications: Search by Size, Shop by Style and Shop by Padding.

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