L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) operates a specialty retail business focused on women's intimate and other apparel, personal care, and beauty categories. Based in Ohio, the company was founded by Leslie "Les" Wexner in 1963. In 1982, L Brands, then known as The Limited Inc., was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
L Brands has grown rapidly, expanding its brand through organic growth and acquisitions. But the company has been hit hard in recent years, with Victoria's Secret struggling to keep up with the competition. The company's stock was one of the worst performers in 2018.
Having sold off its nameplate store The Limited, L Brands' name does not represent its actual business, but the company owns other well-known stores, including Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works. As of early 2019, Victoria's Secret is responsible for more than half of its total sales. Bath & Body Works is responsible for over one-third of its sales.
But many of the companies that it has acquired over its history are no longer under its nameplate. Recent financial difficulties have led L Brands to close its Henri Bendel brand in January 2019. In addition, the company sold its La Senza lingerie chain to private equity firm Regent in December 2018.
Here is a look at Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, La Senza, and Henri Bendel.
L Brands purchased Victoria's Secret for $1 million in 1982. Its assets included six stores and one catalog. L Brands expanded this brand into one of the world's most well-known global lingerie brands. L Brands took Victoria's Secret global in 2012 when it opened its first stores in the United Kingdom. In early 2019, Victoria’s Secret products were sold in more than 1,600 stores worldwide and online at VictoriasSecret.com. Victoria's Secret also has a popular catalog, and through e-commerce and catalog ordering, the company's products are available to customers located nearly anywhere in the world. However, the company has moved away from its catalog focus in recent years to instead focus on its loyalty programs and other brand-building opportunities.
In addition to expanding its geographic reach, L Brands increased the products that Victoria's Secret offers, as the brand now sells fragrances and body care, and has an athletic line. Included under the Victoria’s Secret name is PINK, a line that offers clothing, sleepwear, and lingerie geared toward college-aged women. PINK merchandise is available within Victoria's Secret retail stores and catalogs, and also in freestanding stores. A smaller concept, Victoria's Secret Beauty and Accessories stores, focuses on fragrances, body care, and accessories, and exists in airports and malls. L Brands' founder, chairman, and CEO Les Wexner leads the Victoria's Secret brand.
Bath & Body Works
Bath & Body Works offers personal care, soaps, sanitizers, and home fragrance products. In early 2019, there were 1,800 Bath & Body Works and White Barn stores worldwide, including 80 stores in over 20 other countries operating under franchise, license, and wholesale arrangements. Nick Coe is the brand's president and CEO.
Former Brands Under L Brands
Canadian lingerie brand La Senza was one of L Brands' acquisitions, but L Brands announced in December 2018 that it had made a deal for private equity firm Regent to buy 100% of La Senza’s assets and agree to assume its liability. The company continues to operate in Canada and in other countries around the globe under franchise, license, and wholesale agreements. The company also has an online store. L Brands estimated that La Senza will end 2018 with sales of about $250 million and an operating loss of about $40 million.
In September 2018, L Brands announced that it would close Henri Bendel in January 2019, at the end of the 2018 holiday shopping period. The company is shutting down its website and has closed all 23 of its stores, including its iconic Fifth Avenue location in New York City. Established in 1895, Henri Bendel was an upscale retailer of handbags, accessories, and gifts, including a signature home fragrance collection. Based in New York City, Bendel was the first luxury retailer with an upper Fifth Avenue address.
Although not part of L Brands, the company has distribution rights for C.O. Bigelow and The White Barn Candle Company. L Brands has increased its exposure through the acquisition of companies but has also sold off many companies that it has acquired over its history. Some of the more well-known stores once under the L Brands nameplate but now owned (at least in majority) by other companies include Lane Bryant, sold to Charming Shoppes in 2002; Abercrombie & Fitch, acquired by The Limited and taken public; Express, sold 75% ownership of in 2007; and its flagship Limited, which it sold 75% ownership of to Sun Capital Partners in 2007 and the remaining 25% in 2010.