L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) operated a specialty retail business focused on women's intimate and other apparel, personal care, and beauty categories. Based in Ohio, the company was founded by Leslie "Les" Wexner in 1963. In 1982, L Brands, then known as The Limited Inc., was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Key Takeaways

  • L Brands was a global specialty retail holding company that specializes in women's apparel and beauty products.
  • L Brand's subsidiaries included brands like Victoria's Secret, PINK, and Bath & Body Works. Former brands include The Limited, Express, La Senza, and Henri Bendel.
  • The company also invested in other popular names like Abercrombie & Fitch, Bigelow Tea, and White Barn Candle.
  • In the summer of 2021, L Brands spun off Victoria's Secret and other holdings, renaming itself Bath and Body Works.

On Aug. 2, 2021, L Brands completed the separation of Victoria’s Secret businesses into an independent, public company through a tax-free spin-off to L Brands shareholders. The new company, named Victoria’s Secret & Co., includes Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, PINK, and Victoria’s Secret Beauty. Victoria’s Secret & Co. is an NYSE listed company trading under the ticker symbol VSCO.In conjunction with this announcement, L Brands changed its name to Bath & Body Works, Inc. and now trades under the ticker symbol BBWI.

L Brands

L Brands had grown rapidly, expanding its brand through organic growth and acquisitions. But the company has been hit hard in recent years, with Victoria's Secret struggling to keep up with the competition. The company's stock was one of the worst performers in 2018.

Having sold off its nameplate store The Limited and sister brand Express in 2007, L Brands' name no longer represents its original business. As of July 2021, the board approved the motion to separate Victoria's Secret & Co. and Bath and Body Works into two companies. The company will change its name from L Brands, Inc. to Bath and Body Works, Inc. and the new ticker symbol will be BBWI. Victoria's Secret's new ticker symbol is VSCO. The name changes are to take place on Aug. 2, 2021, and the ticker symbols will be active for trading the day after.

Many of the companies that it has acquired over its history are no longer under its nameplate. The company sold its La Senza lingerie chain to private equity firm Regent in December 2018. In addition, financial difficulties led L Brands to close its Henri Bendel brand in January 2019.

In August of 2021, L Brands spun off Victoria's Secret and other brands, only retaining Bath & Body Works.

Victoria's Secret

L Brands purchased Victoria's Secret for $1 million in 1982. Its assets included six stores and one catalog. L Brands expanded this brand into one of the world's most well-known global lingerie brands. L Brands took Victoria's Secret global in 2012 when it opened its first stores in the United Kingdom. Furthering their global expansion, in 2017, Victoria's Secret opened its first full-assortment store in Shanghai China.

A former American mall staple, Victoria’s Secret has moved its focus to e-commerce at VictoriasSecret.com, making its products available to customers located nearly anywhere in the world. As of Jan. 30, 2021, the brand has 871 stores open in North America and earned $5.4 billion in 2020. Despite the store closures, Victoria's Secret holds the top position for intimates market share.

In addition to expanding its geographic reach, L Brands increased the products beyond intimates, as Victoria's Secret sells fragrances and body care and has an athletic line. Included under Victoria’s Secret brand is PINK, a line that offers clothing, sleepwear, and lingerie geared toward college-aged women. PINK merchandise is available not only within Victoria's Secret retail stores and website but also in the brand's own freestanding stores and website, VSPink.com. Loyal customers can join PINK Nation, a free, members-only online community for all things PINK.

A smaller concept, the 1,000 square-foot Victoria's Secret Beauty and Accessories stores (VSBA), focuses on fragrances, body care, and accessories, and exists in airports and malls. On May 14, 2020, L Brands named Andrew Meslow as the new CEO and Sarah Nash was appointed Chair of the Board. Les Wexler officially left the board and company in March 2021.

Bath & Body Works

Bath & Body Works offers personal care, soaps, sanitizers, and home fragrance products. As of Jan. 31, 2021, there were 1,736 Bath & Body Works stores worldwide. The brand is the top brand for hand sanitizers, hand soap, and body moisturizers as well as the number one specialty home fragrance retailer in America. With a strong store and online presence, the brand generated $6.4 billion in 2020. Julie B. Rosen became the brand's president and CEO in the fiscal year 2020.

L Brands became Bath & Body Works after its 2021 restructuring.

Former Brands Under L Brands

Canadian lingerie brand La Senza was one of L Brands' acquisitions, but L Brands announced in December 2018 that it had made a deal for private equity firm Regent to buy 100% of La Senza’s assets and agree to assume its liability. The company continues to operate in Canada and in other countries around the globe with brick-and-mortar locations and an online store. The company also has an online store. L Brands estimated that La Senza would end 2018 with sales of about $250 million and an operating loss of about $40 million.

In September 2018, L Brands announced that it would close Henri Bendel in January 2019, at the end of the 2018 holiday shopping period. The company is shutting down its website and has closed all 23 of its stores, including its iconic Fifth Avenue location in New York City. Established in 1895, Henri Bendel was an upscale retailer of handbags, accessories, and gifts, including a signature home fragrance collection. Based in New York City, Bendel was the first luxury retailer with an upper Fifth Avenue address.

Other Brands

Although not part of L Brands, the company had secured distribution rights for C.O. Bigelow and The White Barn Candle Company. L Brands increased its exposure through the acquisition of companies but has also sold off many companies that it has acquired over its history.

Some of the more well-known stores once under the L Brands nameplate but now owned (at least in the majority) by other companies include:

  • Lane Bryant, sold to Charming Shoppes in 2002
  • Express, sold 75% ownership of in 2007
  • Flagship brand, The Limited, which it sold 75% ownership of to Sun Capital Partners in 2007 and the remaining 25% in 2010