L Brands will separate Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret into two independent, public companies. The company initially looked into selling Victoria’s Secret, which led to discussions with “multiple potential buyers,” but this move was ultimately rejected in favor of the separation.
L Brands expects each retailer to benefit from having its own distinct strategic and management focus, enabling each to follow operational and growth priorities based on their specific operating and financial models. Andrew Meslow, CEO of L Brands, will continue to hold his position and lead Bath & Body Works following the spin-off. Martin Waters, CEO of Victoria’s Secret, will lead the standalone business following the separation.
News of the spinoff came alongside greatly improved preliminary Q1 2021 results. L Brands reported $3 billion in net sales for the quarter ended May 1, 2021, nearly double the $1.7 billion reported in Q1 2020. Sales were up 15% compared to 2019, showing strong recovery from the pandemic and associated lockdowns.
Preliminary Bath & Body Works net sales reached $1.5 billion for the quarter, compared to $760.6 million in Q1 2020, up 60% from Q1 2019. Victoria’s Secret sales reached nearly $1.6 billion, compared to $893.6 million for Q1 2020, but down 7% from Q1 2019.
“In the last 10 months, we have made significant progress in the turnaround of the Victoria’s Secret business, implementing merchandise and marketing initiatives to drive topline growth as well as executing on a series of cost reduction actions, which together have dramatically increased profitability,” said Sarah Nash, Chair of the Board at L Brands. “As a result of these efforts, Victoria’s Secret is now well-positioned to operate as a standalone, public company. Further, both Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret are leaders in their respective markets, and, as separate businesses, each will be ideally positioned to benefit from a sharpened focus on pursuing growth strategies best suited to each company’s customer base and strategic objectives.”
L Brands has been looking into either selling or spinning off Victoria’s Secret for some time. A deal with Sycamore Partners fell through in May 2020, and the retailer reaffirmed its plans in February 2021.