“My overall outlook is cautious," Wexner told Women's Wear Daily. "I think the world as far as it matters for us looks uncertain. There is a lot of funny stuff. If I look out as far I can see, from outlook point of view, it’s about flat. I think we are going to bump along, bad news one day, good news another...My personal outlook is we will have a good holiday,” barring major unforeseen external circumstances out of the company’s control.
On the subject of international markets, Wexner is decidedly bullish.
“I would guess the potential on international is probably equal to the U.S. If I believe I could do $20 billion in North America, there is probably another $20 billion across the world,” with all Limited major brands - Victoria’s Secret, Pink, La Senza and Bath & Body Works. “You get to $40 billion. It’s a very big number.”
Wexner’s comment came in response to a question during Limited’s investor update meeting Wednesday morning. “The opportunity in international is significant...There is tremendous demand from franchisees, developers and most importantly from customers. It’s really quite good.”
Wexner cited the possibility of opening “several hundred” stores in the Middle East, including 200 in Turkey. His optimism overseas was pumped by the current state of Limited Brands, which is expected to end this year with $1.73 in per share profits, $550 million to $650 million in cash, and less than $300 million in debt. Ninety-nine percent of the fleet is running cash positive after taxes, according to the company.
“It’s a great time for us,” Wexner said in his opening comments. “We haven’t seen such good times in a long time - really robust times, since the invention of the mall.”
Wexner, however, gave no time table on how fast the company would grow abroad, and expressed caution over executing the strategy, suggesting that at least for awhile, the rollout won’t be extremely rapid. “The approach to international we have is very conservative,” Wexner said. “There are a lot of baby steps. We don’t want to take a giant step, fall down and have to regroup,” as other retailers have done, he noted. “We want to make sure we have the right people before we let it rip.”