Uh ohâ¦ it looks like somebody had a bad Christmas. L Brands Inc., the parent company of Victoriaâs Secret, just announced theyâll be shuttering doors on no less than 53 locations of the lingerie brand, citing a drop in sales and a disappointing holiday season.
A drop in sales of 3 per cent over the Christmas period, combined with a fall of in-store sales by 7 per cent, meant shares in the parent company dropped by almost 9 per cent this week.
All of the closures will be in North America, and will see their actual square footage shrink by 3 per cent. To put that in context â they usually close around 15 stores in any given year. The holidays are normally seen as a reliable time to gift some undergarments, but even their PINK line, usually a teen fave, has seen a slide in sales.
According to Bloomberg, the company stated, âGiven the decline in performance at Victoriaâs Secret, we have substantially pulled back on capital investment in that business versus our history.â Sounds like a definitive move. Perhaps some of the change in management has something to do with it â after all, they lost long-term boss Sharen Jester Turney after more than ten years in 2016, followed by Jan Singer who stuck around only two years. The former president of Tory Burch, John Mehas was finally installed at Victoriaâs Secret Lingerie this year, along with a new brand head at PINK. No pressure, but â they might have their work cut out for them turning this ship around.
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The numbers say as much about whatâs been going on outside of Victoriaâs Secret as within it. âThe outlook illustrates that the lingerie-sales struggle will persist until the retailer finds a way to reconnect with shoppers on price, product and image,â said Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Poonam Goyal and Morgan Tarrant. Thatâs putting it tactfully.
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Indeed, the brand has endured its fair share of criticism, mainly that in an era of #MeToo and increased awareness of the hyper-sexualisation of womenâs bodies, itâs uncomfortably tone deaf (not to mention, not very diverse). For our part, weâre not entirely surprised at its waning success. With ever-progressing cultural attitudes, the Victoriaâs Secret brand looks outdated, and frankly out of touch. Whatâs more, the emergence of inclusive, body-positive, and diversity-championing brands like Savage x Fenty, American Eagle Outfitterâs Aerie, and ThirdLove mean theyâre facing stiffer competition than ever. Target also recently threw their hats in the garment ring, announcing the launch of three new low-cost lines of swimwear and nightwear. Perhaps with that in mind, Victoriaâs Secret has promised the return of its popular swimwear line online next month, which was originally discontinued in 2016.
For now, maybe L Brands Inc. will look to one of its other stores, Bath & Body Works, which saw a jump of 12 per cent same-store sales, for happier news.