Victoria's Secret has seemingly been operating under the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra, which for its specific purposes meant continuing to promote its brand through a long-successful campaign of celebrity supermodels and pushup bras. Except now it appears that business model may be broken, and Forbes ponders on the problem: "Does it have time to fix it?" CNN Business reports that what it's doing in the short term is shuttering 53 North American stores, after sales at stores open for at least 12 months fell 7% last quarter, per parent company L Brands. That's on top of a 40% stock plunge over the past year. What's been dragging the brand down: people defecting to big-box retailers and lingerie startups that feature custom-fit bras and "regular people" models, as well as the brand's over-reliance on deep discounts, especially over the holidays.
Victoria's Secret has been "more promotional than we would like over the last several years," L Brands chief Stuart Burgdoefer admitted in a call to analysts Thursday, adding that "we are taking a fresh, hard look at everything in the business." Forbes notes that Victoria's Secret will be bringing back some of its swimsuit line and is putting into place new executives to head up both the Victoria's Secret lingerie line and its Pink brand, aimed toward college students. However, some say it may be too little, too late, especially since it doesn't seem to be focusing on "evolving the brand message," a UBS analyst says. About 30 Victoria's Secret stores closed last year, USA Today notes; a little more than 1,000 stores will remain open. (Even the mosquitoes are turned off by the brand.)