Bath & Body Works goes direct

Bath & Body Works has made the leap from one channel to three. The toiletries retailer launched a transactional Website in October and is now mailing its first print catalog.

Columbus, OH-based Bath & Body Works is part of the $9.7 billion-plus Limited Brands, which includes The Limited and Express apparel store chains and women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Victoria’s Secret. Sharen Jester Turney, president/CEO of Victoria’s Secret Direct, says the company was scheduled to mail the 64-page Bath & Body Works print catalog to 2.4 million customers and prospects in late April, six months after the Website went live.

Considering that the $2.2 billion Bath & Body Works brand is nearly 16 years old, what took it so long to embrace the direct channels? The company wanted to be sure to get it right, says Turney. Holding off on direct for several years enabled it to leverage the best practices from the Victoria’s Secret catalog and Web businesses.

Going direct isn’t the only change for the 1,600-store brand: The company began a makeover on it five years ago, taking it from country charm to city chic. Instead of folksy gingham packaging and bath products and lotions with scents such as country apple and peach nectar, the new Bath & Body Works boasts sleeker packaging and upscale items such as Frederic Fekkai hair care. Bath & Body Works “had been our heartland brand,” Turney says, “but we’re trying to make it more modern.”

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