• With Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, Express and The Limited, Limited Brands sells everything from intimate apparel and daily wear to personal care and home items.
• While its products may be popular, critics charge that there are serious problems with Limited’s ethics and labor policies.
• The company sourced its apparel from an alleged Jordanian sweatshop, was sued for discrimination, and was part of a lawsuit for using sweatshop labor on the US-territory of Saipan.
• Look stylish without wearing clothes that exploit workers. Visit Go Green to learn how to be fashionable and green.
-- Profile Updated 03/28/2011
About Limited Brands
Limited Brands, Inc. operates nearly 3,750 stores across the North America, and owns such well-known chains as Victoria's Secret, Express and Bath and Body Works. In fiscal 2007, Limited Brands sales reached $10.67 billion and it employed 125,500 people.
Victoria's Dirty Secret
Forest Ethics and its allies have conducted a four-year campaign calling on Victoria’s Secret to end the company's use of endangered forest products in their catalogs. The company mails over 400 million catalogues annually, or more than one million per day. The company agreed in December 2006 to develop for more sustainable catalogs and phasing out the use of forest products from valuable and dwindling resources such as the Northern Boreal Forest in Canada. Take action now and congratulate Limited Brands/Victoria's Secret for making this sustainable choice by clicking on the URL below.
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Bath and Body Works, a Limited Brands company, is not a signatory of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Compact signatories make a commitment to eliminate toxic ingredients from their personal care products.
Bath & Body Works - Reynoldsburg, OH
- Express - Columbus, OH
- Express Men - Columbus, OH
Express Men - Columbus, OH
- Express Purchasing Inc. - Columbus, OH
- Henri Bendel - New York, NY
- Intimate Beauty Corporation (Subsidiary) - New York, NY
- Limited Logistics Services - Columbus, OH
- Limited Real Estate - Columbus, OH
- Limited Store Planning - Columbus, OH
- Limited Stores - Columbus, OH
- Limited Technology Services - Columbus, OH
- MAST Industries - Columbus, OH
- The White Barn Candle Co. - Columbus, OH
- Victoria's Secret Direct - Columbus, OH
- Victoria's Secret Direct - New York, NY
- Victoria's Secret Stores Inc. - Flint, MI
- Victoria's Secret Stores Inc. - Reynoldsburg, OH
Contact Limited Brands
P.O Box 16000
Columbus, OH 43216 USA
In November 2007, D.K. Garments, a subcontract factory in Jordan that supplies for Victoria’s Secret, has come under much criticism for its sweatshop like conditions and treatment of its workers, who are almost all foreign (from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). The Victoria’s Secret workers work 14 to 15 hours a day and receive on average one day off every three or four months. Overtime work is mandatory and physical abuse can be expected when workers fall behind on production goals or make an errors. These workers, borderline slaves, are allowed solely 3.3 minutes to sew each $14 Victoria’s Secret women’s bikini, for which they are paid four cents, or in other words, less than 3/10ths of one percent of the product’s retail price. More sweatshop operations with these conditions have allegedly developed in Jordan after the US and Jordan signed their “free trade” agreement into effect in 2001.
-- The Huffington Post, 11/27/2007
The National Labor Committee’s report titled, “Sewing Victoria’s Secret: Garments in a Hidden Sweatshop,” outlines the human rights violations committed by the Mina Garments Factory, which supplies goods for Victoria’s Secret. The lack of respect for workers’ basic human rights included the following:
- Human trafficking and involuntary servitude of guest workers
- Confiscation of workers’ passports and denial of legally required identification cards
- Routine work shifts of 14.5 to 15.5 hours, with 40 percent of guest workers kept on 19 hour all-night shifts
- No sick days, paid vacations, or government holidays allowed
- Wages at 8 percent below the legal minimum
- Workers denied the legal 25 or 50 percent premium compensation for overtime hours
- Sporadic pay
- Inadequate and unsanitary working conditions
- Workers subject to pay reductions, humiliation, violence, and threats if production goals not met
- Forced deportation for any worker who spoke out about factory conditions
-- National Labor Committee, 05/01/2006
In April 2003, a federal court on the Pacific island of Saipan approved a $20 million settlement on a class action lawsuit filed against the Limited and 21 other companies. The lawsuit charged that the companies contracted sweatshop labor on Saipan, a U.S. Commonwealth and should be held accountable for worker treatment and conditions in foreign-owned factories operating on U.S. soil. According to the complaint, the more than 13,000 garment workers in Saipan regularly worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, often times "off the clock" without receiving any pay or overtime. The lawsuit also accused the Limited and the other companies of operating a "racketeering conspiracy" through which workers, who are mostly young women, sign contracts waiving their basic human rights and pay recruitment fees of up to $10,000 to secure sweatshop jobs. By agreeing to the settlement, the companies admitted no wrongdoing.
-- Clean Clothes Campaign, 01/08/2004
Source URL: www.cleanclothes.org/legal/04-01-08.htm
Ethics and Governance
New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. filed shareholder resolutions with 11 corporations urging the implementation of the UN's Human Rights Norms by overseas suppliers. Resolutions were filed on behalf of the city’s pension funds, which hold a total of 14,319,462 shares of the companies worth nearly $700 million. Companies targeted by the Comptroller included Altria, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., Limited Brands, Mattel Inc., Timberland Co., Hasbro Inc., and Kimberly Clark as well as four other corporations. Limited Brands agreed to comply.
-- New York City Comptroller's Office, 12/29/2006
In 2006, Leslie H. Wexner, Chief Executive Officer of Limited Brands Inc, made over $9.3 million in total compensation including stock option grants from Limited Brands. Wexner has another $70.36 million in unexercised stock options from previous years.
-- AFL-CIO, 04/05/2006
According to the Social Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), ten years after the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission recommended disclosure of diversity data as a way to remove barriers and promote women and minority advancement, most US companies still fail to fully disclose EEO data to the public. Limited Brands is listed as one of the companies that does not provide full public disclosure. The company did not respond to a survey sent by SIRAN.
-- Social Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), 12/07/2005
Source URL: www.siran.org
The Limited is listed in a Government Accounting Office database of more than 900 publicly traded companies that have restated their financial results because of accounting irregularities since the beginning of 2002. The Limited was listed for a 2005 restatement for revenue recognition related issues.
-- Government Accounting Office, 09/30/2005
In 2003, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Victoria’s Secret on behalf of a former employee of Victoria’s Secret for discrimination. Linda Ellerson of Langhorne, PA claimed she quit her job at Victoria’s Secret when she received repeated insults regarding her race and religion, and was explicitly instructed to approach black customers as if they were thieves. The company paid $179,300 to settle the suit.
-- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 06/27/2003
Bath and Body Works retrofitted its headquarters to become more energy and water efficient in March 2010 and expects to save about $140,000 a year while reducing its annual emission of carbon dioxide by 1,736,158 pounds. Measures taken to improve efficiency include a modified plumbing system of low flow fixtures, reducing hot water heating set points to minimums, replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, training staff in energy efficiency and sustainability, and replacing seals in loading dock doors. This retrofit has helped the Bath and Body Work headquarters to earn a LEED Silver certification.
-- Environmental Leader, 03/11/2010
The US Green Building Council awarded the Bath and Body Works headquarters and distribution center a LEED Silver certification, in the category of Existing Building: Operations and Maintenance (EB O&M). Bath and Body Works is the first Limited Brands building to earn LEED Certification and is the first and only building in Ohio to earn the LEED EB O&M Silver Certification.
-- Bath & Body Works, 03/03/2010
-- Forest Ethics, 12/09/2009
The Central Ohio Emerald Awards honor the best and most innovative recycling, green design and waste reduction programs in the region and in 2006, Limited Brands was named the winner in the “Best Practices” category. The retailer was awarded for its 7 distribution centers that have diverted over 16-million pounds of material from landfills in 2005 alone, with 73% of what was intended for a landfill was recycled instead. The brand has also redesigned its shipping cartons to use less fiber and has designed a program to achieve a 60% reuse rate for these cartons.
-- Limited Brands, 01/10/2006
Health and Safety
Two prominent environmental groups, Environmental Defense and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, commissioned a study of 17 perfumes sold in Canada. The study shows that all the tested perfumes contained chemicals not listed on labels that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt hormones, amounting up to an average of 14 “secret chemicals” per tested perfume. These chemicals do not have to be specifically labeled due to a regulatory loophole that allows corporations to use the word “fragrance” on their label to protect the fragrances “trade secrets.” The report also revealed that galaxolide and tonalide, two endocrine disrupters, were found in 16 of the total 17 perfumes tested; these toxins have also been found inside the bodies of babies as fragrance chemicals can easily enter the body through inhalation or absorption through skin. The 17 name-brand perfumes, colognes and body sprays included Giorgio Armani’s Acqua Di Gio (owned by L’Oreal), Old Spice After Hours Body Spray, Axe Body Spray for Men, Bath & Body Works’ Japanese Cherry Blossom and Victoria’s Secret Dream Angels Heavenly (owned by Limited Brands); the full list can be found on the Safe Cosmetics website.
-- Safe Cosmetics, 05/12/2010
Source URL: http://www.safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=652
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetic released a report in March 2009 that revealed 23 out of the 28 children’s bath products they tested contained formaldehyde, a chemical that increases skin sensitivity and irritates nasal and respiratory passages in addition to being considered a probable carcinogen by the EPA. 32 of 48 tested products contained 1,4-dioxane, which is also considered a probable human carcinogen by the EPA and a byproduct of the chemical processes used to make petroleum-based ingredients gentler to the skin. Nearly two-thirds of all tested products contained both of these harmful toxins. Brands tested in this study include Bath & Body Works (Limited Brands), Johnson & Johnson, CVS/Pharmacy, Unilever, L’Oreal, Wal-Mart, Kimberly-Clark, Target, Costco and Procter & Gamble. Organic Consumers Association has also recently released a report on brands that have sharply reduced levels of 1,4-dioxane since March 2008 that include 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods), Earth Friendly Products, Ecco Bella, Giovanni, Jason, Johnson & Johnson, Kiss My Face, Life Tree, Method, Nature’s Gate, Planet Ultra, and Seventh Generation.
-- USA Today, 03/12/2009