Victoria's Secret Adds Spice With New 'Maker' Brands



As Victoria's Secret continues to find it way toward a comeback, it's trying on a new look: a curated digital platform called VS&Co. Lab.

The retailer aims to connect shoppers with unique intimates, lifestyle and swim brands, including the stories of those that create them. The new section on its website hopes to attract a different kind of consumer, spotlighting mostly women-led companies with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

"We see important growth potential through partnerships with innovative, relevant brands that can help us extend our reach into category and consumer segments where we have historically been underrepresented," says Martin Waters, CEO of Victoria's Secret & Co, in its announcement.

For the kickoff, it's featuring Buki Ade, founder of BFyne,  the Nigerian American designer known for her rich, brilliant colors.



It's the latest move for Victoria's Secret, which is still trying to regain its sales mojo. It just announced quarterly profits that topped Wall Street expectations, but sales are still challenged.

For the first quarter, the Reynoldsburg, Ohio company says sales dropped 4.5% to $1.48 billion, from $1.55 billion in 2021. Those 2021 results were shored up by government stimulus payments, but even when those are factored out, sales still came in flat.

On a comparable-store basis, sales fell 8%.

Net income was $80.8 million, down from $174 million -- a better result than analysts expected.

Supply chain issues, inflation and concerns about consumers cutting back on discretionary spending were all factors. Still, "we have strengthened our emotional connection with our customer and further enhanced our leadership in bras through innovative product launches," Waters says.

Last summer, the company spun off from L Brands, now called Bath & Body Works.

Some observers are encouraged about its long-term prospects for turning the brand around. It still hasn't entirely shaken off the stink of its 2020 #MeToo scandals, including the departure of its CMO and other executives. And like so many mall-based stores, it's found the pandemic exceptionally bruising.

"We applaud management's initial progress in transforming the brand's image to be more modern, inclusive and diverse," writes Kimberly Greenberger, an analyst who follows the company for Morgan Stanley, in a note earlier this year.

That includes evolving model profile and adding size-inclusive mannequins, and partnering with brands aimed at larger sizes. Greenberger's also encouraged about the company's renewed enthusiasm for bra launches.

She notes that after years of decline, the retailer's customer base is growing, especially among younger shoppers. It's also enjoying its highest-ever organic approval ratings on social media.

In April, Victoria's Secret introduced the Happy Nation brand aimed at tweens. It features a size-inclusive and gender-free collection of sweats, swimwear, bras, underwear and body care.

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