Victoria’s Secret longtime CEO Sharen Jester Turney unexpectedly stepped down from her position on Friday.
The news concerned investors and shares of parent company Limited Brands crashed on the news.
According to a release, she was leaving the company at a time of record success to focus on her family and her life outside of work.
“After 16 years and a record fourth quarter at Victoria’s Secret, I have decided to prioritise my family and my personal life and consider what’s next for me professionally,” she said in the release. “My years with Victoria’s Secret have been the most exciting and rewarding years of my career. I leave the Victoria’s Secret business well positioned for the next chapter of growth … a strong brand with great momentum. I take great satisfaction and pride in what our team has accomplished, including tremendous growth and the development of a world-class team.”
It’s unusual for a CEO to leave without much notice.
“It does feel very abrupt, especially when you see people retire, there’s an announcement made in advance there’s a plan put in place for transitioning to new leadership,” Bridget Weishaar, equity analyst at Morningstar, said to Business Insider.
For example, Adidas’s current CEO, Herbert Hainer, will leave this fall when his replacement, Kasper Rorsted, assumes his position. Reuters reported that new CEO Rorsted was appointed in January, giving a considerable amount of time for a transition to take place.
And given Victoria’s Secret success, it’s confounding; on the surface, there isn’t any turmoil. It’s one of the few mall staples that hasn’t been suffering as of late. In fact, it continually brings in strong sales.
But the departure is ultimately unlikely to undercut the brand’s overall success.
“Looking at L Brands as a whole at Morningstar, we judge a company based on its competitive advantage, and we do this by assigning an economic mote rating, so L Brands has a wide economic mote rating, so we think it can sustain a competitive advantage for at least 20 years,” Weishaar said to Business Insider. “That is based on the strength of the core brands.”
Victoria’s Secret’s customers are loyal and repeatedly come back to the brand to replenish lingerie, according to Weishaar.
The brand remains a behemoth in the lingerie industry; according to IBIS World, it holds 61.8% of the market.
“I don’t think the competitive advantage of Victoria’s Secret is going to erode because a single person left,” Weishaar said. “We’re not moving out long term assumptions. It could cause some short term noise, but in the long term, L Brands will move forward just fine.”
Fortunately, the company is in good hands — that of Les Wexner, who is largely responsible for turning Victoria’s Secret in the female friendly brand that it is known for today. Wexner is the CEO of L Brands.
“We have strong confidence in the strength of the brand and our growth opportunities, and I look forward to taking on a more active role and working with the talented leadership team at Victoria’s Secret,” Wexner said in a release.
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