Women’s apparel retailer The Limited has closed all 250 of its stores, laying off 4,000 employees in the process. The retailer announced the closures in a statement on its web site on Jan. 6. The Limited will remain but as an e-Commerce only retailer.
The shutdown isn’t a surprise to those working within The Limited brand. The retailer sent an internal message to employees during its first set of layoffs in December indicating that it would close operations if it couldn’t find a buyer. The retailer reportedly had $100 million in debt obligations following numerous missed sales targets in recent quarters.
The company’s top executives were abandoning ship at a rapid rate, a telltale sign that the brand had faltered. CEO Diane Ellis left The Limited in October to take over as President of Chico’s FAS. Only two months later, John Buell, the company’s CFO who had replaced Ellis as interim CEO, departed to become CFO at apparel retailer Altar’d State.
Like other mall-based brands such as Aéropostale, American Apparel, Pac Sun and Wet Seal, The Limited saw heavy sales declines that ultimately led to shrunken brick-and-mortar footprints and bankruptcy filings. All these brands suffered from similar challenges — an inability to handle the influx of fast fashion brands and online competitors, many of which have done a better job reacting to consumer behavior.
And with traditional mall-based anchors like Macy’s, JCPenney and Sears all having tremendous difficulty bringing in foot traffic, lower-tier brand closures put more pressure on major mall operators Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties to fill real estate space.
“In an increasingly challenging environment for mall-based retail and women’s apparel, we are very disappointed that the company has had to make the difficult decision to close its retail locations,” said The Limited’s parent company, private equity firm Sun Capital, in a statement.