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No More ‘Free Panty’ Deals: Big Changes Afoot at Victoria’s Secret



Victoria’s Secret still rules the lingerie business, but there are signs that all is not well in the bra and panties empire.

The mall stalwart has made several changes in recent months: In April, it trimmed 200 corporate jobs and announced a reorganization of the business. It has shut down its catalogue apparel business and stopped selling swimwear. Amid the changes, Wall Street has backed away from the retailer’s parent company, L Brands, sending its stock down some 32 per cent so far this year.

This week, L Brands executives addressed investors, painting a portrait of exactly what kind of problems it is battling against and how it plans to do better. And, essentially, their troubles come down to this: Promotions like its ubiquitous “free panty” offer aren’t working anymore, and the chain hasn’t quite nailed its merchandise lineup lately.

Let’s start with the coupons, which seem to show up in women’s mailboxes with the same reliability as the electric bill. For years now, Victoria’s Secret has offered a coupon that, for a limited time, allowed you to pick up a free panty at its stores. The logic is that you’d come in to get the freebie, but once you were there, you’d be enticed to buy a bra or perfume or pyjamas.

Executives had said previously that this free panty parade was coming to an end. During the presentation for investors at the company’s Columbus, Ohio headquarters, they laid out exactly why.

Stuart Burgdoerfer, chief financial officer of L Brands, said the promotion was no longer the magic traffic-and-sales magnet it once was. These days, 40 per cent of the customers that redeem the free panty don’t end up buying anything else. And, Burgdoerfer added, the constant drumbeat of deals was cheapening the brand.

“Do they drive volume? Yeah,” Burgdoerfer said. But, he added, “You can sell Mercedes on discounts too, and so you got to be careful about how you’re driving that volume and what it does to the brand over time.”

The rise and fall of the free panty promotion offers yet another cautionary tale for an industry that has been hooked on promotions since the depths of the recession. Consumers get numb to them, and then the deals stop providing the sales jolt they once did. Tween retailer Justice, for example, touted offers such as “40 per cent off, plus an additional 20 per cent off” for 400 straight days in 2014 and 2015. It eventually became a two-pronged problem: Promotions ate into the brand’s profitability, and customers weren’t even excited by them.

So Victoria’s Secret is now joining many chains in trying to rethink the years-long merry-go-round of promotions. Some chains are trying to offer discounts less frequently; others are trying to revisit the types of deals they offer, perhaps getting rid of storewide events in favour of category-specific sales. Victoria’s Secret is pivoting to offers on newer items such as sports bras and its beauty line, which it is working to revamp. Chief executive Les Wexner said at the event, “we’re not particularly proud of our beauty assortment in the last 12 to 18 months.”

Beauty is not the only part of the merchandise lineup that Victoria’s Secret is rethinking. The retailer has ditched its swimwear business and its clothing business, areas where it wasn’t offering anything particularly distinctive from its competitors.

“Anybody can sell Uggs, right? No disrespect to Uggs, nice product, right?,” Burgdoerfer said. “But why are we selling Uggs? Does that really tie to the Victoria’s Secret brand?”

And then there’s the fact that women right now are not necessarily looking to add more underwire and moulded cups to dresser drawers. Bralettes — a soft, often-pullover-style bra — and sports bras have lately been especially popular choices, perhaps an outgrowth of the popular “athleisure” look. That presents a challenge because the style is not what Victoria’s Secret is known for. It’s also an area where Wexner says clothing retailers are better positioned to give Victoria’s Secret a run for its money in making an item that fits and looks good.

“With a garment like a bralette, which is made essentially like apparel, it’s easy for somebody who’s in the apparel business to sell them,” Wexner said.

To be sure, Victoria’s Secret still has plenty going for it. For one, according to market research firm Euromonitor, the chain grabbed nearly 32 per cent of the bra and panties market last year. The next closest competitor? Fruit of the Loom, with a much smaller 5.5 per cent share. And while for the last two months it has seen declines in comparable sales, a measure of sales at stores open more than a year, it had a long streak before that where it was a rare specialty apparel retailer delivering solid growth on this metric. In other words, this is not a brand in a long-term slump, it’s a brand trying to get out of a so far short-term rut.

But Wexner described the company as being at an “inflection point,” and said that in hindsight, he wishes Victoria’s Secret had made these changes two or three years ago. Time will tell whether or not its actions are too late.

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Beauty Week is back at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto and it’s time to get glam



Beauty enthusiasts rejoice! Beauty Week at Hudson’s Bay is back in Toronto for another year. It’s time to stock up on all of your fall essentials and, maybe discover some new ones. 

From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 27, you can expect a truly elevated beauty experience in-store with incredible special offers, limited-time gifts, and exciting activations. 

If you’re a diehard beauty lover, you’ll already know that Hudson’s Bay is the place to shop thanks to its extensive range of over 195 skin and makeup brands from both luxury labels and masstige brands — including Tata Harper, Estée Lauder, YSL, Nars Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and so much more.

Throughout The Bay’s Beauty Week, visitors can take in some at-counter activations and interactive expert-led tutorials, where there will be chances to get makeup touch-ups from top-tier brands, try a spritz of the most alluring fragrances, and sample tons of new products.

This year’s Beauty Week highlight is the ‘Best in Beauty’ tote, a meticulously-curated selection of 30 deluxe samples from an array of top-tier brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm and Shiseido spanning skincare, fragrance, and makeup — all in a super sleek bag.

The tote, which is valued at over $300, is retailing for just $39 and is a fantastic way to explore new products (without breaking the bank). However, there is a limited quantity, so if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to be fast.

Wondering exactly what Beauty Week’s free gifts with purchases entail? If you spend over $95 at Lancôme, you will receive a six-piece set valued at $130. Or, you can get an Estée Lauder gift valued at $170 with purchases over $80. (And that’s just to name a few.)

If you’re a Hudson’s Bay Rewards member, you’ll also get $20 in Hudson’s Bay rewards when you spend over $100 on beauty.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are hiring for several non-combat military jobs



The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have several non-combat jobs, some of which do not require a college degree or past work experience.

Life in the forces has several benefits, such as paid education plans (college, university and graduate-level programs), 20 paid vacation days, health and dental coverage for you and your family, maternity and paternal leave, and pension plans. You can learn more about the benefits in detail here.

And to make it easier to gauge if you qualify, the listings also include related civilian jobs to see if it’s your ideal role.

Financial services administrator

Related civilian jobs: Financial records entry clerk, financial manager, accounting technician, bookkeeper, budget officer, cashier clerk, business planner technician, and verification manager.

Description: You’ll help budget resources for all military activities besides providing financial assistance.

Education: You need to have completed Grade 10.

Duties: As a financial services administrator, you’ll be responsible for bookkeeping and managing budgets. You’ll also provide support in accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Work environment: Those in this role work at CAF bases, on ships or overseas. You might also be expected to help special operation units, recruiting offices, schools, and medical organizations.

Postal clerk

Related civilian jobs: Mail clerk, mail sorter.

Description: You’ll provide postal services to members and their families at bases and establishments.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: As the postal clerk, you’ll handle mail duties.

Work environment: Besides a postal office, you may work on a ship or a mobile postal van. You might be expected to serve with Royal Canadian Navy, the Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada and abroad.

Dental technician

Related civilian jobs: Dental assistant, dental hygienist.

Description: You’ll be helping dental officers provide dental services to CAF members, their families, and dependents.

Education: Level II dental assisting diploma from an accredited college or a National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) certificate.

Duties: Those in this role will be responsible for various responsibilities, including disinfection and sterilization of dental equipment, applying rubber dams, placing cavity liners, and controlling bleeding. In addition, you’ll assist in laboratory procedures like creating casts, custom trays, and mouthguards.

Work environment: This role will require you to work in a military dental clinic, a Mobile Dental Clinic, an Air Transportable Dental System, or onboard a ship. You might be expected to work on a base in Canada or other operations in other parts of the world.

Human resources administrator

Related civilian jobs: Records administrator, data entry supervisor, receptionist, office manager, executive assistant, payroll clerk, and information management technician.

Description: Provide administrative and general human resources support.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: In addition to human resources administration and services, you’ll be handling pay and allowances, managing automated pay systems, and maintaining personnel records.

Work environment: HR administrators work at all CAF bases in Canada. They also work on ships and overseas to support the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or Royal Canadian Air Force operations.

Medical assistant

Related civilian jobs: Emergency medical responder, ambulance and first aid attendant, registered nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and hospital orderly.

Description: Successful candidates will help treat the sick and injured in CAF units. You’ll be assisting and supporting nursing and medical officers.

Education: Minimum of Grade 11 biology, Grade 10 physics or chemistry, and Grade 10 math.

Duties: You’ll provide initial care and essential life support treatments in trauma cases. You’ll help with health assessments (hearing and vision tests, perform basic lab procedures, etc.) and initiate and manage medical records and reports. You’ll also be expected to provide support and first aid during training exercises.

Work environment: Medical assistants may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Canadian Army as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Those in this role are exposed to the same risks as the forces they support.

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Porter’s new loyalty program promises to match Air Canada’s Aeroplan status



Porter Airlines is once again stirring the pot among Canadian airline rivals, now going after Air Canada’s Aeroplan members by offering to match their loyalty status to an equivalent of their own.

The beloved airline, which recently ranked as having the best cabin service in North America, challenged the competition for the second time this year, after previously deploying a similar tactic against WestJet in the spring. 

Earlier in April, Porter presented customers with a limited-time offer to match the loyalty status of WestJet’s patrons with VIPorter levels.

Now, they’re offering Aeroplan members to seamlessly transition to an equivalent VIPorter Avid Traveller status based on their existing membership tier.

Members can then take advantage of an array of travel perks that come with flying Porter, including seat selection, baggage, and flight changes.

For those currently holding an Aeroplan membership, there are two ways to acquire the Avid Traveller status for the rest of 2023:

Status-Based Match:
  • Aeroplan 25K members = VIPorter Venture
  • Aeroplan 35K members = VIPorter Ascent
  • Aeroplan 50K, 75K, and Super Elite = VIPorter First
Flight Segments-Based Match:
  • 5 flight segments = VIPorter Passport
  • 8 segments = VIPorter Venture
  • 17 segments = VIPorter Ascent
  • 28 or more segments = VIPorter First

Members will have to first submit their applications on Porter’s website. Registration will remain open until September 6, 2023.

In order to maintain their membership level through 2024, customers will have until the end of 2023 to reach the following reduced qualifying spend (QS) targets:

  • Passport = $500 in QS
  • Venture = $750 in QS
  • Ascent = $1500 in QS
  • First = $2500 in QS

Over the past year, Porter has launched an aggressive expansion strategy, including everything from introducing longer flights on newly-purchased jet planes flying out of Toronto Pearson, free WiFi, and a new all-inclusive economy experience.

With Canadians losing both Swoop and Sunwing as WestJet incorporates both into their mainline business, Porter’s direct competition is welcome to keep prices competitive.

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