January 20, 2011, 3:02 PM

Vera Bradley focuses on better use of search and affiliates

E-commerce accounted for 20% of revenue in the third quarter.

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Vera Bradley Retail Stores LLC will concentrate on growing its e-commerce business through improved search and better use of affiliates, executives said at a recent investor conference.

Vera Bradley’s direct business—including VeraBradley.com and Vera Bradley stores—has been a significant driver in the consumer brand manufacturer and retailer’s growth, C. Roddy Mann, executive vice president of strategy and business development, told attendees at the ICR XChange Conference last week. The company also sells its products through independent retailers.

Revenue from e-commerce increased $5.4 million in the third quarter of Vera Bradley’s 2011 fiscal year, accounting for about 20% in total revenue for the quarter, Mann said.

Vera Bradley is pleased with the growth of the e-commerce site, launched in 2006, and plans to focus on generating more traffic as well as “better conversion through better search, more intelligent search and more intelligent use of affiliates,” Mann said.

VeraBradley.com, No. 252 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is “more than just commerce,” Mann said. “It’s really part of an online community of fans that want to participate in the brand through the Internet.”

Vera Bradley designs stationery, rolling luggage, limited-edition lines, tableware, fine rugs and eyewear. The retailer went public in fall 2010, with a $176 million IPO.

For the third quarter of fiscal 2011 ended Oct. 30, 2010, Vera Bradley reported:

  • E-commerce sales of $18.3 million, a 42% increase from $12.9 million in the prior year quarter, based on Vera Bradley’s presentation and Internet Retailer calculations.
  • Direct sales, including stores and e-commerce, of $31.8 million, up by 74.1% from about $18.3 million.
  • Indirect sales, through independent retailers, of $59.8 million, a 9.7% increase from $54.5 million.
  • Total sales of about $91.6 million, a 25.9% increase from about $72.8 million in the prior year quarter.
  • Comparable-store sales increased by 32.5%.
  • Net income was about $6 million, a 53% decline from $12.8 million in the prior year quarter.

For the nine months ended Oct. 30, 2010, Vera Bradley reported:

  • Web sales increased by $12.9 million. The company did not break out total web sales for the period in 2011 or 2010.
  • Direct sales, including stores and e-commerce, of $95.4 million, a 55.1% increase from $61.5 million in the prior year period.
  • Indirect sales, through independent retailers, of $161.3 million, up by 13.3% from $142.3 million.
  • Total sales of $256.7 million, a 25.9% increase from $203.8 million.
  • Comparable-store sales increased by 28.2%.

Net income was about $32 million, up by 23% from $26 million in the prior year period.

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