Things have gotten so bad at Victoria’s Secret that its parent company is tightening the purse strings, including shuttering dozens of underperforming locations.
L Brands Inc., owner of the lingerie chain, announced Wednesday plans to close about 53 Victoria’s Secrets in North America this year, more than three times the 15 it’s historically closed down in an average year. Victoria’s Secret square footage in North America will drop by about 3 percent, it said, even as it continues to grow the footprint of its more successful Bath & Body Works chain.
“Given the decline in performance at Victoria’s Secret, we have substantially pulled back on capital investment in that business versus our history,’’ the company said in written earnings commentary after reporting disappointing holiday-quarter results.
The rough patch isn’t new: Victoria’s Secret has been under scrutiny for years for failing to keep up with shifting consumer demands, especially involving themes of female empowerment and diversity.
But its reticence to change has been made even more pronounced with the emergence of competitors like Rihanna’s lingerie company Savage X Fenty, American Eagle Outfitters Inc.’s Aerie and ThirdLove, which aim to be more inclusive of women of different shapes, sizes and backgrounds. The road only gets harder from here: Major retailer Target Corp. announced earlier this week plans to launch three new private-label brands specializing in low-cost underwear and sleepwear.