Amie Preston – Vice President of Investor Relations
Limited Brands, Inc. (LTD) May 2008 Sales Call June 5, 2008 7:30 AM ET
Good morning! I am Amie Preston, Vice President of Investor Relations, and this is Limited Brands May Sales Report for the 4-week period ending May 31, 2008.
As a matter of formality, I need to remind you that any forward-looking statements I may make today are subject to the safe harbor statement found in our SEC filings.
Total Limited Brands sales for the 4 weeks ended May 31, 2008, were $661.3 million, compared to sales of $774.7 million for the 4 weeks ended June 2, 2007. Limited Brands May comps were down 6%, at the low end of our expectations. Merchandise margin rates in May were up at Victoria’s Secret and up significantly at Bath & Body Works. Due to the negative impact of the recognition of mass sales to Express and Limited stores which are now external customers, our consolidated merchandise margin rate was down significantly. Inventories continue to be well managed and controlled. Retail inventories consisting of Victoria’s Secret, La Senza, and Bath & Body Works ended the month down 29% versus last year on a per square foot basis net cost.
Now for the individual brand results beginning with Victoria Secrets store. Victoria Secrets stores comp store sales for May were down 4% in line with our expectations. The merchandise margin rate was up to last year, driven by less promotional selling activity this year. In May, we continued to feature our successful bio-fit bra which we supported with national media and a direct mail campaign. We supported the Pink business with swap purchase with purchase offer to drive traffic and conversion followed by a Pink shorts promotion. Both met expectations. In Beauty, we offered the new Heavenly Kiss fragrance as a lead-up to Mother’s Day, followed by a successful event featuring our fragrance men’s collection. This month, we are highlighting our exciting bridal collection in the majority of stores and are focused on our swim collection where applicable.
On June 17th, we will start our semi-annual sale which will run for three weeks, the same timing and expected duration as last year.
At Victoria’s Secret Direct, May sales were up 9% versus last year, driven by swimwear and dresses. The May merchandise margin rate was about flat to last year. At La Senza, May comps were up 4%, below expectations. The merchandise margin rate was flat to last year. At Bath & Body Works, May performed below expectations with comps down 11%. Negative traffic levels drove the comp sales decline. The merchandise margin rate for the month was up significantly to last year.
This week, we launched our semi-annual sale which, like last year, is planned to run for 5 weeks. In July, we introduce new fresh Queen Scents from our signature collection line including Rain Kissed Leaves for the body and Fresh Bamboo for the home. Also featured in this theme will be the launch of Pink’s toiletry.
In closing, we expect negative mid to high single digit total company comps in June. Thank you for your continuing interest in Limited Brands.