Victoria's Secret Goes Public With Reorganization Plans

In a move that’s being hailed by one analyst as unusual for its foresight, Victoria’s Secret is laying off 200 people and reorganizing into three business units — Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, PINK and Victoria’s Secret Beauty — while it’s at the top of its game. But another is less appreciative of the moves hailed by Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and CEO of parent L Brands.

“Coming off a record year, now is the best time to make improvements … going from best to even better,” says Wexner in a press release announcing the changes. We are making these changes to accelerate our growth and to strengthen the business for the long term by narrowing our focus and simplifying our operating model.”

Wexner assumed the duties of longtime CEO Sharen Jester Turney after she resigned unexpectedly in February. The heads of each of the new units will report directly to Wexner.



“It’s a really forward-thinking perspective that we don’t often see with retailers these days,” Sonia Lapinsky, a director in the retail practice of consulting firm AlixPartners, tellsUSA Today’s Hadley Malcolm. “Victoria's Secret is doing well and this is the perfect time to be laser focused and make sure they continue to go win the strategic places they’re best at.”

Another analyst, however, indicates that “the Victoria’s Secret brand is in danger of getting as overexposed as one of its famous models,” as Lisa Fickenscher puts it for the New York Post. “The 500-pound gorilla of the lingerie world, with its 1,118 stores across the U.S., has run out of room to grow and faces stiffer competition than in the past, the analyst said.”

Indeed, Credit Suisse retail analyst Christian Buss says “there’s less clarity about the company than at any time over the last three years,” Fickenscher reports.

“Founded in 1977, Victoria’s Secret has long been the leader in the women’s lingerie market, with $1.1 billion in revenues in 2015,” Phil Wahba writes in Fortune. “But as reported last month by Fortune, there is a lot of competition from up and coming brands, and even established brands like American Eagle Outfitters’ Aerie.”

L Brands says it will eliminate certain unspecified merchandise categories “and focus resources on core merchandise” where it sees the most potential.

The company also says it will integrate the direct business as a primarily digital channel within the Victoria’s Secret and PINK businesses and “put more focus on loyalty programs and brand-building engagement rather than traditional catalogs and offers.” 

The rationale is that it is “align[ing] with how customers engage with the brands.” Which means, presumably, that the Internet is here to stay. 

“In de-emphasizing the catalog, Victoria’s Secret is signaling that the glossy publication is no longer as effective a selling tool —another example of the Internet eroding print institutions. Even so, Victoria’s Secret sales exceeded predictions last month,” Nick Turner points out for Bloomberg.

“Victoria’s Secret same-store sales grew 2% in March as a decline in the beauty segment was offset by growth in PINK and lingerie. The company also said the shift of the Easter holiday into March this year from April last year hurt results,” Joshua Jamerson reports in the Wall Street Journal. “Analysts, on average, expected 1.4% growth in March, according to Consensus Metrix.”

“Company wide, same-store sales rose 3% at L Brands, also the parent of Bath & Body Works and La Senza. Analysts, on average, had expected 1.52%. L Brands said total company sales increased 4.7% to $1.03 billion in March.”

The job cuts at the company’s corporate offices in Columbus, Ohio, and New York City “affect just a fraction of the 87,900 employees,” the AP points out in its story. Wexner appears to be a bit less heartless.

“I am certain that these changes are necessary for our industry-leading brands to reach their significant potential … nonetheless, decisions about people are the most difficult ones to make, and we are taking care to support associates who are being affected by these changes,” he says in the statement.

Meanwhile, in a footnote to yesterday’s coverage of a Gucci ad being banned in the U.K. because the model appeared to be “unhealthily thin,” model Erin Heatherton recently told Time magazine's Motto site that “she was told to lose weight while preparing for two Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows, which led her to struggle with her body image,” Tracy Swartz reports in the Chicago Tribune. “Reps for Victoria's Secret didn't respond to a Tribune request for comment,” Swartz says.

1 comment about "Victoria's Secret Goes Public With Reorganization Plans ".
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  1. Norman Duncan from Social Science consultant, April 8, 2016 at 12:25 p.m.

     The feminine world has offered to the scene the braless product which affects  traditional marketing.  Women now have a preference for CATALOG SALES AND ELIMINATING THE GLOSSY I BELIEVE IS A CARDINAL ERROR. The taboo trend is shopping at sex shops for unusual under garments.  Business as usual is not advisable and trends must be considered. 

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