Victoria's Secret Set to Shutter Stores Across the US

Victoria's Secret is planning to shutter a number of stores across the United States this year, with the lingerie brand's parent company, L Brands, making the announcement last week.

CNBC reports that around 53 stores will close in 2019, speeding up closure plans from previous estimates of around 15 store closures per year. L Brands has also pulled back on investing in new and remodeled stores and company executives said in a conference call that "every element" of the brand is being evaluated. The planned closures will shutter around four percent of Victoria's Secret's 1,143 stores worldwide.

Victoria's Secret is the weakest part of L Brand's business, with same-store sales falling three percent, and shares of L Brands trading down more than seven percent on Thursday morning.

The move to close stores comes on the heels of the Victoria's Secret's announcement that it would be reviving its swimwear line, which it originally dropped in 2016. Executives said that the dominant focus will now be on merchandising.

Victoria's Secret has been struggling with sales for years, with brands like American Eagle's Aerie, Third Love and Rihanna's Savage X Fenty offering consumers an image very different from the model-thin marketing Victoria's Secret has been relying on for years.

The body positivity movement means that many consumers want to see lingerie worn by models who look more like them, and campaigns like Aerie's #AerieREAL have earned them millions of customers, ultimately chipping away at the market shares Victoria's Secret once handily owned. In early March, American Eagle reported a 23 percent increase in same-store sales for Aerie during its fourth quarter, the brand's 17th consecutive quarter of double-digit positive growth.

Victoria's Secret has also seen its share of controversies, including comments made by chief marketing officer Ed Razek last year while discussing the brand's annual fashion show, which critics say is quickly falling out of touch with the increasingly inclusive times.

"If you're asking if we've considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have," Razek told Vogue. "We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don't."

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"It's like, why doesn't your show do this? Shouldn't you have transsexuals in the show?" he continued. "No. No, I don't think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us."

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