Victoria’s Secret is hoping to make a splash amid lagging sales by bringing back the bathing suit.
Summer may be months away, but the lingerie empire’s plans to boost profits amid an influx of new competitors are just heating up, its parent company L Brands announced on an earnings call this week.
CFO Stuart Burgoderfer said that the sexy skivvy seller’s performance over the last quarter was “unacceptable,” and that swimwear, and potentially eyewear and footwear, would be rejoining the roster come spring.
“Fundamentally, it is about what the customer is telling us,” he reportedly said.
L Brands announced its quarterly earnings release earlier this week, and noted that while brands like Bath & Body Works have performed better than expected, Victoria’s Secret sales have dropped 6% since last quarter.
The slip comes as the company continues to make headlines; Victoria’s Secret CEO Jan Singer recently announced her resignation, and the company has been battling bad press thanks to L Brands Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek.
Razek sparked outrage earlier this month after he said in an interview with Vogue that transgender models had no place on the Victoria’s Secret runway, as they did not fit the “fantasy” aspect of the show.
Tory Burch head John Mehas was announced as Singer’s replacement, while Razek apologized amid heavy criticism from stars like Kendall Jenner and Rihanna.
Plus-size model Tess Holliday ripped the company in an Instagram post that told Victoria’s Secret to “kiss my fat a–,” while model Robyn Lawley said in an interview about the company’s annual fashion show: “All my friends that were doing that show were starving themselves.”
Razek’s comments and the immediate backlash are just further indication that women’s preferences are shifting; they no longer desire the aspirational looks associated with Victoria’s Secret’s “Angels,” and are instead embracing the “realness” of brands like Aerie, who push ad campaigns with body-positive, unretouched photos.
“We’re a big diverse world, so I think some people could be put off by that,” Catherine Geib, an associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told the Daily News. “Why not get on board? If they don’t get on board, somebody else will. There’s always somebody on your heel.”
Aerie reported a record-high 38% increase in same-store sales in 2018’s first quarter, while the company’s comparable sales reportedly rose 27% in the second quarter.
“Our No. 1 priority is improving performance at Victoria’s Secret Lingerie and PINK,” Les Wexner, chairman and CEO of L Brands, said Monday. “We have lost our close connection to our customer… Our new leaders are coming in with a fresh perspective and looking at everything.”
Part of the revamp meant to push the company ahead of its many competitors includes the reintroduction of swimsuits, which Victoria’s Secret axed from its lineup back in 2016 in order to focus on more profitable lines.
The company – which launched in San Francisco in 1977 — also nixed the swimwear print catalog, though it remains unclear if the lookbook will be making a return, as well.
“Swimwear is an important category, and everybody always looked to Victoria’s Secret for swimwear,” Geib said. “So now that they’re looking to regrow their business or add on, swimwear is a great place to go again. (But) just because they’re redoing it doesn’t mean that they’re absolutely going to be profitable again. Swimwear is a hard business.”
L Brands knows hard businesses. In September, it announced it would close all 23 Henri Bendel stores in order to focus on growing the company’s other brands, which include Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Bath & Body Works and La Senza.
The company, based in Columbus, Ohio, acquired the luxury accessories store in 1985.
Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show last year saw a 32% dip in ratings from the year before, and managed the worst ratings on record. This year’s show is slated to air Dec. 2.
Still, some of the brand’s coveted Angels dismissed the notion that the brand was struggling in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
“The Victoria’s Secret fashion show, and everything else we do throughout the year, certainly has a place in this feminist movement,” model Lais Ribeiro told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s how I feel, especially working with them for so long.”
The move to bring back its swimwear line has some Victoria’s Secret fans tickled PINK.