Victoria’s Secret, which made billions perfecting the come-hither look but fell out of sync with consumers, is still trying to get its appeal back.
The brand’s April comparable sales fell 2 percent after a 12 percent drop a year ago, according to a report from parent company L Brands Inc. The performance was worse at just the brand’s brick-and-mortar stores, which comped down 5 percent for the month after a 7 percent decrease a year ago.
Amie Preston, L Brands’ chief investor relations officer, said: “Strength in the beauty business was offset by a decline in lingerie and Pink. The merchandise margin rate was down significantly to last year, driven by additional promotional activity in order to drive traffic.”
For the first quarter, Victoria’s Secret comped up 1 percent, while its corporate sibling Bath & Body Works saw a comp gain of 8 percent, leading to a 3 percent increase for L Brands overall.
At the end of April, inventories per square foot were up 14 percent, or up 1 percent on a two-year basis and in line with the company’s expectations.
L Brands, which tends to beat its own projections, said first-quarter earnings would come in at the lower end of previous guidance, calling for earnings per share of 15 cents to 20 cents.
Investors sent shares of the company down 7.2 percent to $31.68 on Wall Street Thursday.
Victoria’s Secret has been in serious flux since early 2016, when the brand cut its apparel and swim businesses and started to change its promotional stance under the direction of L Brands chief executive officer Leslie Wexner.
Jan Singer, the former Spanx ceo, was brought on board to lead Victoria’s Secret that year and has been working to steer the brand back on course. In March, she told investors that the company made progress “resetting the business” last year, focusing on the core bra business.
“Based on continued engagement with the customer, we continue to rebalance the bra mix, offering her choices of bras with benefits, balanced with high fashion and constructed and unconstructed,” Singer said.