After almost six decades as chief executive, L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner is reportedly in talks to leave his position as head of his retail empire. As the longest-serving chief executive of an S&P 500 firm, Wexner molded Victoria’s Secret, The Limited and Abercrombie & Fitch into national chains, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Wexner would be leaving the position following a challenging time for the company that he has run for almost 60 years. The executive could stay in his chairman role, according to one unnamed source. According to reports, a full or partial sale of Victoria’s Secret is under discussion.
Shares of L Brands Inc., the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, fell 29 percent in 2019 and were not part of an expansive stock market rally. The company, which also owns the Pink and Bath & Body Works chains, has a sub-$6 billion market value, a far drop from its $29 billion peak in 2015.
Barington Capital Group LP purchased a small stake in L Brands last year, and encouraged the company to think about separating Bath & Body Works from Victoria’s Secret.
Victoria’s Secret has long commanded the U.S. lingerie market, but has struggled with declining sales in recent years. Demand for VS bras has cooled as shoppers look to brands that focus on inclusivity and comfort.
The firm reportedly aims to reach a decision on a potential arrangement and to finalize succession plans in the weeks to come, but it is not set in stone that it will strike a deal.
Last February, news surfaced that the lingerie retailer looked to shutter about 53 Victoria’s Secret locations. The retailer closes an average of around 15 stores each year and has 1,143 stores overall worldwide.
That news followed reports that Victoria’s Secret was experiencing new competition from Target, which was gearing up to join the sleepwear and lingerie market. The retailer was to roll out three lines of lingerie and sleepwear in the spring.