L Brands Founder Leslie Wexner Permanently Leaving Victoria’s Secret

Leslie H. Wexner is leaving Victoria’s Secret. 

Parent company L Brands revealed Thursday that the company’s founder, chairman emeritus and former chief executive officer would not stand for re-election to the L Brands board at this year’s shareholder meeting in May. Neither would his wife Abigail. 

“L Brands is at a terrific place in its history,” Wexner, age 83, said in a statement. “The board is incredibly well-led by Sarah and we have two new wonderful directors joining us. We have some of the strongest brand leaders in our history and the businesses are well positioned going into the future. I am more confident than ever that we have very positive momentum as we approach the planned separation into two businesses. Now is an ideal time for Abigail’s and my transition from the board. 

“When I retired from the business last year, I said that creating this business and working with so many talented associates, literally millions of them, was a source of great pride,” he continued. “I am deeply honored to have been a part of the lives of so many associates and customers since I first opened the doors in 1963.”

In his place, Francis Hondal, president of loyalty and engagement at Mastercard, and Danielle Lee, chief fan officer for the National Basketball Association, have been named  independent members of the board, bringing the total board to 10 directors, nine of whom are independent and six of whom are women, including chairperson of the board Sarah Nash. 

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“We are thrilled to welcome Francis and Danielle to the L Brands board,” Nash said. “Their respective abilities to foster connections with consumers across in-person as well as digital channels will be invaluable as L Brands continues to execute its strategy and deliver engaging shopping experiences. The appointments of these two highly talented individuals reinforce the board’s commitment to ensuring we have a diverse and qualified board with the right skill sets and backgrounds to drive value for shareholders and effectively guide the company through the planned separation and beyond.

“Serving with Les has been an inspiration for all of us at L Brands,” she continued. “His thoughtful approach to developing brands and building dedicated and talented teams have enabled L Brands to evolve and succeed as a leading specialty retailer for nearly 60 years. I am so appreciative of everything that Les and Abigail have done to serve this board and L Brands’ stakeholders. With the strong foundation we have in place, we are so excited to move forward with the company’s next chapter and our plans to create two businesses in the future.”

Earlier this month, L Brands, which also owns the Bath & Body Works brand, reiterated its plans to pursue a “dual-path approach to the separation of Victoria’s Secret,” either selling the Victoria’s Secret business — which includes the Lingerie, Beauty and Pink divisions — or spinning it off from Bath & Body Works. The latter would allow the more profitable Bath & Body Works brand to stand alone on the public market, helping unlock shareholder value.

Shares of L Brands, which closed up 1.41 percent to $61.12 a piece Wednesday, are up more than 524 percent, year-over-year.

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