Victoria’s Secret owner in talks over possible sale and exit of CEO

Victoria's Secret

Victoria’s Secret owner L Brands is reported to be in talks with the struggling lingerie giant’s billionaire founder and CEO Leslie Wexner about either stepping aside or selling the business.

The US-based global lingerie chain has found itself out of step with the market in the post-#Metoo era with its over-sexualised imagery and non-inclusive approach to marketing.

Its once high profile fashion show in which some of the world’s top models (dubbed “Angels”) walked the catwalk in wings and elaborate lingerie has been cancelled, having previously attracted millions of viewers on TV and across social channels globally.

However the brand was criticised for its lack of inclusivity when it came to casting and for appearing to encourage models to undertake gruelling diet and exercise regimes in order to participate.

Its problems were compounded by Wexner, a former chief of Abercrombie & Fitch, having been associated with the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Wexner has said he was “embarrassed” by his association with Epstein, which ended in 2007, and who had been his personal financier and a trustee of the Wexner Foundation.

The Wall Street Journal first reported news of a possible sale of the business or the removal of the 82-year-old CEO and said L Brands was keen to reach an agreement in the coming weeks, though there was no guarantee that it would. The company has declined to comment though L Brand’s shares jumped yesterday on the back of the speculation.

Victoria’s Secret, which has around 25 UK stores and a flagship on London’s Bond Street, has also struggled to compete with upstart brands entering the lingerie market, such as American Eagle’s Aerie in the US, offering more inclusive designs and promoting body diversity.