Victoria's Secret is closing dozens of stores

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesVictoria’s Secret says it’s closing stores.
  • Victoria’s Secret says it is closing 53 stores in North America this year.
  • Its parent company, L Brands, reported fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday, and same-store sales at Victoria’s Secret were down 3%.
  • The brand has struggled in recent years – sales have slipped, and its provocative ads are being criticised by some as being tone deaf in the era of #MeToo.

Victoria’s Secret says it is closing dozens of stores this year.

The US lingerie giant announced Wednesday in a fourth-quarter earnings commentary that it would be closing as many as 53 stores this year, citing a “decline in performance.” It projected that its square footage in North America would decline by about 3%.

Its parent company, L Brands, reported fourth-quarter earnings after the market close on Wednesday. Same-store sales of the Victoria’s Secret brand were down 3% during the quarter and overall in 2018.

The brand has struggled in recent years and increasingly been accused of losing relevance among shoppers as its hypersexualized ads and racy runway shows have failed to resonate in the era of #MeToo.

Read more:

We visited a Victoria’s Secret store on the day that it announced dozens of closures. Here’s what we found.

This came to a head in November after a Vogue interview with Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of L Brands, went viral online. Razek told the interviewer that he didn’t think the company’s annual fashion show should feature “transsexuals” because the show was a “fantasy.”

“It’s a 42-minute entertainment special,” he said. “That’s what it is.”

His comments sparked an outcry online that prompted him to issue a formal apology.

The annual fashion show’s ratings also took a hit. According to ABC, the network that ran the show, 3.3 million people tuned in to watch the fashion show when it aired December 2, down from 5 million viewers in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, when it aired on CBS.

At the same time as Victoria’s Secret sales are declining, brands known more for advocating body-positivity, such as American Eagle’s Aerie and ThirdLove (which is becoming increasingly critical of Victoria’s Secret), have gained market share.

American Eagle reported a 32% increase in same-store sales at Aerie in the third quarter. This marked its 16th consecutive quarter of double-digit positive growth. During a call with investors after the earnings release, its CEO, Jay Schottenstein, described this as one of the company’s best-ever results.

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