The sale could be officially announced as soon as this week. In addition to Victoria’s Secret, the publicly-traded L Brands’ also includes Bath & Body Works. According to Market Watch, L Brands shares are down close to 11 percent over the past year while the S&P 500 index is up nearly 23% for the same period.
The lingerie company’s fall from grace has been nothing short of spectacular. Purchased by L Brands current CEO Leslie Wexner in 1982, the company’s financial stumbles were foreshadowed with a runway-show related interview in November 2018 with Ed Reznek, who at the time was L Brand’s head of marketing. Criticized for his wildly out-of-step views on model casting, Reznek stepped down within less than a year of the interview.
Wexler also has been plagued by his close association with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while in prison awaiting trial for having sex with minors. In April 2019, the Daily Beast reported a new Epstein accuser who said she was sexually assaulted in Wexler’s Ohio home. Wexler in his defense has said he cut ties with Epstein over 10 years aog.
The company caught fresh fire last week from a NY Times article exposing an “entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment.”
While the company culture is clearly toxic, Victoria’s Secret financial woes have more so been impacted by its inability to keep up with a rapid shift from brick-and-mortar to online shopping. Citing a decline in performance, the company announced it was closing 53 stores last year. Should the company go private, it’s likely store closings will escalate.