The Selling Off of Victoria’s Secret Has Begun as CEO Steps Down

Wexner is going to let someone else try to save the struggling brand

victoria's secret
SOLD
Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / February 20, 2020 10:06 am

Victoria’s Secret is officially going private. Following reports last month that L Brands CEO Les Wexner was considering stepping down and selling the struggling lingerie brand, the company announced Thursday that private equity firm Sycamore Partners would be taking control of Victoria’s Secret, while Wexner will be stepping down as CEO and chairman.

In a deal valuing the brand at around $1.1 billion, Sycamore will pay about $525 million for a 55 percent stake in Victoria’s Secret, the New York Post reported. Victoria’s Secret will become a separate privately held company with L Brands holding the remaining 45 percent.

Wexner will reportedly remain on the L Brands board as chairman emeritus, but will replaced as CEO by Andrew Meslow, currently COO of fellow L Brands property Bath & Body Works.

The news hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who’s been following Victoria’s Secret’s rapid decline in recent years. In addition to declining sales, increasing competition from more inclusive lingerie brands and waning interest from consumers who have criticized the brand for its failure to institute more inclusive sizing and advertising, the former lingerie giant has also struggled with a cascade of PR disasters beginning with former president & chief marketing officer Ed Razek’s transphobic Vogue interview back in 2018. The struggling brand came under further scrutiny last summer when Wexner’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein came to light in the aftermath of the disgraced financier’s death in prison while awaiting child sex trafficking charges, and earlier this month the New York Times reported on an alleged “culture of misogyny” deep within the company.

“We believe the separation of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK into a privately held company provides the best path to restoring these businesses to their historic levels of profitability and growth,” Wexner said in a statement.

Allan Tessler, L Brands’s lead independent board director, called Wexner “a retail legend who has built incredible brands that are household names around the globe.”

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