When chief government officers come to Wall Road to pitch their firms, they often include one among two tales.
In a single, they’re the conquering hero on high of the hill and defending their turf. Within the different, they’re extra of a profitable upstart, able to win the combat for market share on their manner up the hill.
Martin Waters, chief government officer of Victoria’s Secret & Co., managed to borrow a bit from every narrative on the firm’s annual investor assembly on Thursday.
On one aspect, he pointed to Victoria’s Secret’s $6.2 billion in gross sales, its $700 million in earnings earlier than curiosity, taxes, depreciation and amortization and its main 20 p.c share of the U.S. marketplace for lingerie.
“With 85 million followers on Instagram, we’re the second-most adopted model on the planet,” Waters crowed.
However on the identical time, Victoria’s Secret could be very a lot buying and selling like an underdog and struggling by means of weak spot in its house market. Its market capitalization is simply $1.2 billion — a fraction of its gross sales — and the corporate’s enterprise worth is simply 3.3-times EBITDA. The inventory is down by about 50 p.c over the previous yr.
If some on Wall Road have already written off the corporate, that has liberated Waters, who was ceaselessly optimistic on the assembly, but in addition addressed the weaknesses head on.
“The tough actuality is that a very powerful facet of the work that we needed to do in 2023, which was strengthening the core of the corporate — our gross sales for Victoria’s Secret and Pink in North America will not be the place we’d like them to be,” the CEO admitted.
He pointed to the profitable launch of the Victoria’s Secret’s loyalty program, which garnered 18 million followers in just some months, and a few good product launches as among the many firm’s successes.
“However in the long run [they were] not sufficient to hold the day,” Waters mentioned. “And so the problem is working in a market that’s been shrinking [with a] mid single-digit decline within the intimates market.
“The fact of working in a shopper surroundings the place gross sales are going backward for most individuals, the place the client has much less cash, the place the client is skewing to a decrease worth merchandise, have all been very difficult,” he mentioned.
Gross sales on the firm’s shops fell 15.6 p.c to $1.6 billion within the first half.
It’s been a tricky stretch for Victoria’s Secret, which after defining attractive in a really particular manner for therefore lengthy, fell out of step with the broader tradition — after which ran right into a pandemic, an aborted sale after which a company spinoff.
However the model has reset and is working once more to undertaking its message out to the world, bringing its well-known trend present out of hiatus final month in New York with a brand new message, meant to be far more empowering to girls.
And Waters mentioned the trouble is working.
The concept was to create a “media frenzy” and get “the entire world speaking about Victoria’s Secret once more” whereas additionally being related in well-liked tradition and creating movies and different belongings that can be utilized to advertise the model.
The CEO mentioned the present succeeded on all fronts, creating 17 billion media impressions since early September.
“There’s a relevance to this model,” he mentioned. “We’re again within the dialog about well-liked tradition.”
Now the thought is to remain there — in a great way this time — and rebuild the enterprise.
That has the corporate pushing forward in a number of totally different areas directly, increasing abroad, constructing the enterprise with Amazon to north of $100 million over the subsequent yr, utilizing know-how from the Adore Me acquisition to juice up the principle model, combining extra Pink and Victoria’s Secret shops into only one location within the mall and redeveloping classes that prior administration deserted.
Greg Unis, model president of Victoria’s Secret and Pink, famous, “Once we exited the swim enterprise…we truly didn’t lose the client. She stayed with us, however what we did lose is the journey that she made to purchase swim and attire and the spend on core…each $2 of swim that she purchased that we misplaced, we additionally misplaced a greenback of core. That’s a giant deal.”
Likewise on sports activities bras.
“We misplaced this market,” Unis mentioned. “We had it. We had been at one time limit, we had a 16 p.c share in sports activities bras. At present, it’s 4 [percent]. It was a few half a billion greenback enterprise at its peak. It’s not that immediately. Large alternative.”
On attire, he famous: “Within the U.S. market, our addressable market, girls store for lingerie thrice a yr versus attire, they store for 21 occasions a yr. That’s a giant distinction. So the shift from 3 to 21, I like that math.”
Now Victoria’s Secret simply must make that math work for it.