This week, L Brands, parent company of Victoria’s Secret, announced that the world’s largest lingerie brand will close 53 stores across North America this year.
“We’ve pulled back on investing in new stores and the remodeling of stores substantially over the last several years,” Stuart Burgdoerfer, CFO of L Brands, told investors during a conference call. “We did a deep review of all of our real estate in the fourth quarter, which solidified and gave rise to our plans about capital activity, spending activity in 2019 and again a more active closure plan for 2019 than we had seen in prior years.”
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L Brands has had it rough lately — the company closed 30 Victoria’s Secret locations last year and The Chicago Tribune reports that in-store sales were down 7 percent last year. Additionally, the once mega-popular Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show had its lowest ratings ever last November. The was marred with controversy after L Brand’s CMO, Ed Razek, defended VS’ casting choices by saying he didn’t think plus-size or transgender models needed to be represented by the brand, because the VS show is a “fantasy.” Meanwhile, the company is working on selling its other struggling lingerie brand, La Senza.
In the past few years, Victoria’s Secret has seen a rise in competition from brands like Aerie and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty. At the same time, consumer interests have shifted. Where Victoria’s Secret’s hyper-sexualized, ultra-glamorous aesthetic once ran supreme, customers are now more interested in celebrating body positivity and inclusivity.