Victoria’s Secret is getting ready to preach its gospel of sex, sensuality and romance to an international audience.
“We believe there is an opportunity to bring Victoria’s Secret to the world,” stated Sharen Turney, chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret, during her presentation on the lingerie power brand — past, present and future — at the Bryant Park Hotel Wednesday morning.
Turney said the first Victoria’s Secret international stores could open in late fall 2009 or early 2010. “We are looking at a lot of different opportunities,” she said. She was not at liberty to disclose specific locations, though partnerships with overseas operators are currently being worked out. The nature of these partnerships will “vary market by market,” Turney said, meaning that in some cases there will be licensed operators for Victoria’s Secret stores, and in other cases, there could be company-owned stores.
“We will share some of our international strategy later this year,” she said.
Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and chief executive of Limited Brands Inc., which owns Victoria’s Secret, has for about the last two years discussed the overseas potential for the corporation. But the biggest step came in January 2007 when Limited Brands bought the La Senza lingerie chain, which is based in Canada. La Senza operates 326 La Senza Lingerie, La Senza Express, La Senza Spirit and La Senza Girl stores throughout Canada. In addition, 341 La Senza and La Senza Girl stores are operated internationally in 34 other countries through franchised stores.
Homegrown moves abroad have been minimal to date, with The Bath & Body Works division just beginning to expand in Canada, with about half a dozen stores this season. La Senza is helping BBW determine locations.
Turney’s presentation suggested the international agenda was gaining momentum. Currently, there are no Victoria’s Secret stores outside the U.S., although the chain does about $100 million in Internet sales to overseas customers.
To broaden the appeal both domestically and abroad, Victoria’s Secret next month will launch a Spanish version of its Web site, Turney said. The Web site continues to gain popularity. Last spring, the site grew 12 percent in sales from the year before. The Web site accounts for $1.6 billion of Victoria’s Secret’s $5.5 billion in total sales.Wexner believes Victoria’s Secret can eventually to $10 billion in annual sales. International growth is crucial in attaining that goal.
The chain has 1,000 stores in the U.S. Turney also said Victoria’s Secret over the course of this year has put together an entirely new design team. The total design staff has 100 people including designers, production and technical personnel, in New York, London and Hong Kong.