Victoria’s Secret CEO to exit
Struggling L Brands-owned lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is set to lose CEO Jan Singer, reported the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, citing a person briefed in the matter who said that, after two years leading the label, Singer has resigned.
Singer joined Victoria’s Secret after two years serving as CEO at Spanx, having spent over a decade prior to this as an executive at Nike.
In recent years, Victoria’s Secret has had trouble adapting to a lingerie industry which is increasingly moving toward the kind of inclusive body-positive messaging that is largely at odds with a brand whose marketing is fronted by a contingent of seemingly flawless “Angels”.
It’s a strategy that is condensed into its most concentrated form at the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the 2018 edition of which took place earlier this month. This year’s lingerie extravaganza was accompanied by a controversy surrounding comments made by L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek in a Vogue interview, where he said that he didn’t think the show should feature transgender models. The ensuing social media uproar led Razek to apologize and retract his statement but it’s hard not to see his initial comments as a sign of just how far behind the company’s leadership is in the inclusivity conversation.
It was hoped that Singer’s appointment of Calvin Klein alum Jann Parish as chief marketing officer at Victoria’s Secret last year might be the start of a new era in the brand’s messaging, but little has changed since then and Parish recently announced that she would be stepping down from her role.
The label’s historical focus on more elaborate and overtly sexualized lingerie pieces has also been losing appeal among consumers who are, more than ever, seeking a natural look, and valuing simplicity and comfort in their underwear. During her time leading Victoria’s Secret, Singer has overseen the introduction of bra styles aiming to target women prioritizing comfort and fit, but to little avail.
L Brands is yet to publish its Q3 earnings but has already announced its sales for the quarter, reporting that comparable sales at Victoria’s Secret fell 2%, leading to total brand revenues of $1.529 billion – yet another sluggish performance for the label.
The recent news that the brand is planning the opening of its long-awaited debut store in France, as well as a further spate of new retail locations in the region, suggest that, as sales at home continue to slip, the US-based brand may be looking to up its chances of a successful turnaround by betting on international expansion.
It is still unclear who Singer’s replacement might be, but L Brands is expected to provide further details concerning her departure when it reports its quarterly earnings on Monday, November 19.
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