Investment fund Sycamore Partners takes a majority share in American lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret, in a move which sees its owner's CEO Leslie Wexner steps down. The agreed fee of 525 million dollars (485 million euros) should allow the parent company to reduce its debts.
Sycamore Partners is taking a 55 % share in the once-iconic retailer, the rest remains in the hands of its current owner, L Brands. The agreed fee puts a value of 1.1 billion dollars (a billion euros) on the company, whose near future has been the object of a lot of speculation.
For a long time, Victoria’s Secret dominated the lingerie market, but the brand has suffered in the last few years as it held on to traditional views on beauty - as personified by its Angels. However, this proved to be unpopular with an ever-growing part of the target audience that was looking for more inclusion.
The sale also spells the end for Leslie Wexner as CEO at L Brands. His position had been under pressure for a while, due to disappointing sales and - possibly even more so - due to his ties with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. However, he Wexner will stay on as 'chairman emeritus'.
This is already the fourth case this week of an ailing retailer finding rescue in the hands of new owners, after the Belgian branch of Dutch Blokker (acquired by Dirk Boon to be turned into discount stores on Monday), Forever 21 (by a consortium of three investors yesterday) and German Real (by a Luxembourg fund on Wednesday). However, it will soon become apparent if that rescue is real - or just a delayed demise...