Bath & Body Works is joining the growing group of U.S. retailers expanding to other countries.
But the Limited Brands division is crossing borders cautiously, announcing Thursday that six stores will open this fall in Canada.
In the past couple of years, Saks Fifth Avenue, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Gap Inc. have opened stores abroad, and Macy's Inc. and Lord & Taylor recently disclosed they are considering overseas expansion. Bloomingdale's is planning a store in Dubai, sources have said.
Customers in Canada "have already expressed a tremendous interest in our products," said Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and chief executive officer of Limited Brands Inc. "Our acquisition of La Senza last year allows Canada to be our stepping stone into international expansion."
La Senza, the lingerie chain, has been helping BBW find locations in Canada, and will also help in the marketing of the stores. "Thanks to our years of Canadian retail experience, we understand the needs and desires of our Canadian consumers. With our experience and knowledge, we are perfectly positioned to introduce this brand into the marketplace," said Laurence Lewin, president and co-founder of La Senza.
A spokeswoman for Limited Brands said Thursday there is no projected number of openings in Canada.
"We want to get our feet wet in Canada first before we go anywhere else," the spokeswoman said.
The product lineup at BBW in Canada will be the same, with a few exceptions, she added. All of the store signature collections will be in the Canadian units, though some of the third party brands may not make it.
The stores will open in the Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga; the Fairview Mall in Toronto; Stone Road Mall in Guelph; West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton; White Oaks Mall in London, and in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto. The openings will initially create about 250 full-time and part-time jobs.
Bath & Body Works is considered the world's largest specialty retailer of beauty and personal care items, operating more than 1,600 stores in the U.S.
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