Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Limited’s plans for ’13 include four outlet stores

A window display at The Limited’s Nashville outlet store, which opened last Monday Facebook.com/thelimited
By  Tim Feran The Columbus Dispatch Monday May 6, 2013 1:50 AM

The Limited is pushing the limits of its fashion business by expanding into outlet centers, a growing sector of retailing.
The New Albany-based women’s-apparel company quietly opened the doors on its Nashville-area store last Monday and will open another store in Auburn Hills, Mich., on May 18. Grand openings for both stores are set for Memorial Day weekend.
Two other outlet stores — in San Marcos, Texas, and Rosemont, Ill. — will open in early summer.
The Limited opened its first two outlet stores in 2012, in the Baltimore and Charlotte, N.C., areas.
Those were well-received, said William Acevedo, senior vice president of stores, who has experience with outlet stores and is spearheading The Limited’s entry into the sector.
As with the original two outlet stores, the successful launch of this year’s stores will be fueled “by delivering trend-right product, at the right price and in the right locations,” Acevedo said.
The Limited was Limited Brands’ original chain. It was sold off to the private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners in 2007. The chain’s stores have been predominantly mall-based.One local retail observer thinks The Limited’s outlet stores hold promise.
“It looks like they’re going into really strong projects,” said retail analyst Chris Boring, principal at Boulevard Strategies. “There have been other mall-based retailers that have taken this strategy, including The Gap, so if anything, they’re almost coming late to the game compared to others.”
In opening the outlet stores, The Limited also follows in the footsteps of heavyweight chains such as Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, and The Limited’s former corporate sibling, Express, which has 10 outlet stores. Limited Brands has four Victoria’s Secret outlet stores, and Bath & Body Works has 70.
The expansion into outlets, prompted in part by the dwindling appeal of major department stores in traditional malls, has meant that the outlet industry has been growing much faster than retail in general, Boring said.
“If you’re a retailer that primarily locates in malls, your growth opportunities are pretty limited nowadays,” Boring said. “The last regional mall built in the U.S. was in 2006, I think, so they’re looking for new avenues of growth.”
Simon Property Group, the largest mall operator in the country, bought its first outlet center in 2004. Today, Simon is the largest owner of outlet centers, too, with 70 locations. The country has 185 outlet centers, and total sales are $24.3 billion, according to the trade publication Value Retail News.
In addition to the outlet stores, The Limited plans to open eight traditional-format stores this year, as far west as Los Angeles and as far east as Buffalo, N.Y. The company is also remodeling nine stores. None of the openings or remodelings will be in Ohio.
Including the stores set to open in 2013, the company has opened 68 since 2008. The Limited operates 260 stores in the United States.

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