It's official: Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands, Inc., announced it will be closing 53 of its 1,143 Victoria's Secret and PINK stores, which is less than five percent of its locations in North America. A list of impacted stores has not yet been released.
The Ohio-based company owns multiple brands, including Victoria's Secret, PINK and Bath & Body Works, acquiring the lingerie giant and its direct catalog business for $1 million in July 1982.
In 1998, the lingerie and apparel brand jumped into the online-shopping arena, launching its website and further expanding the business in addition to catalog sales and brick-and-mortar stores. The planned store closures will not affect the retailer's e-commerce business.
Once a mall fixture, Victoria's Secret has seen declining sales in recent years alongside additional competition from other labels like Aerie, ThirdLove and even traditional clothing brands that have branched out into lingerie, such as Madewell.
Some say, the brand is simply behind the times. In a Vogue interview late last year, Razek suggested that people aren't interested in seeing plus-size models on the Victoria's Secret runway.
"We attempted to do a television special for plus sizes (in 2000). No one had any interest in it, still don't," he said.
He also said that in his view, transgender women should not be cast in shows. (He has since apologized for that comment on Twitter, and clarified that he would be fine with casting transgender models.) Still, the comments caused lasting controversy.
L Brands, Inc., which closed the luxury department store Henri Bendel in January, reported on Wednesday that Victoria's Secret stores in the U.S. and Canada saw a seven-percent decrease in store sales in the fourth quarter of 2018. The continued dip follows a six-percent decrease during the same period in 2017.
What's next for Victoria's Secret? In an emailed statement, Tammy Roberts Myers, a vice president and spokesperson for Victoria's Secret, explained to TODAY Style.
"Our new CEOs in Victoria's Secret lingerie and PINK are most focused on our product assortments, where we believe we have clear opportunities to improve. We have new product launches throughout spring in lingerie, PINK and beauty, including a limited, curated, digital-only swim assortment in March, and we will continue to leverage the speed we have in our supply chain to test, read and react," Myers said.
The Victoria's Secret franchise operates in an estimated 80 countries around the world, though L Brands only directly owns and operates Victoria's Secret in the U.S., U.K., Canada and China.
The Victoria's Secret store closures is just the latest dismal retail news this year as other struggling brands, including Payless ShoeSource, Charlotte Russe, and Gymboree, scale back their operations.