Sarah E. Nash will begin as the new L Brands chairman once the sale of Victoria’s Secret to Sycamore Partners is complete. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.
Nash, who joined the L Brands board in May 2019, is the chair and chief executive officer of Novagard Solutions, a manufacturer of silicone-based products. Wexner, founder and current chairman and chief executive officer of L Brands, will step down as Nash steps up, transitioning to chairman emeritus.
“Sarah has brought fresh perspectives to L Brands since joining the board last year and her wealth of experience advising companies in their strategic and financial initiatives make her ideally suited to serve as chair,” Allan Tessler, L Brands current lead independent director, said in a statement. “Following the recently announced transformative transaction with Sycamore, the company is on the best path forward to advance the growth of Bath & Body Works as a stand-alone company and deliver enhanced value for all L Brands shareholders. We are pleased the board and management team will continue to benefit from Sarah’s insights and leadership as the organization remains focused on driving the business forward.”
News began whirling around the struggling lingerie brand in January that it was looking for a new owner. In February, parent company L Brands announced the sale of a majority stake of Victoria’s Secret to private equity firm Sycamore for $525 million. The sale included both Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie and beauty divisions, along with sister brand Pink while L Brands’ remaining operation, Bath & Body Works, will become a stand-alone public firm.
At the time, Nick Coe, chief executive officer of Bath & Body Works, was named vice chairman of Bath & Body Works Brand Strategy and New Ventures, while Andrew Meslow, Bath & Body Works’ chief operating officer, was elevated to ceo of the business.
No word was given on Victoria’s Secret’s current leadership team, including John Mehas, ceo of Victoria’s Secret lingerie, Amy Hauk, ceo of Pink and Greg Unis, ceo of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, and whether each will continue in his or her post.
In addition, the board remains in flux as three other board members — Allan Tessler, Gordon Gee and Raymond Zimmerman — are set to retire from their positions as of the annual shareholders meeting in April. Nash will replace Tessler as lead independent director. The company said in February that Meslow of Bath & Body Works will also join the board at the close of the transaction.
“I am honored to be named chair of L Brands as the company enters this exciting new chapter in its history,” Nash said. “We continue to make progress towards closing the previously announced transaction with Sycamore. I look forward to working with my fellow board members and the company’s management team to support the growth and success of L Brands in the years ahead.”
The sale of the lingerie division was seen as a way to increase value in the company’s lucrative Bath & Body Works business while restructuring Victoria’s Secret as a private company, out of the public eye.
Still, shares of L Brands, which are down 41.5 percent year-over-year, closed down 19.27 percent to $15.84 a share, amid the continued coronavirus pandemic. (The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 2,352.60 points to 21,200.62.)
Victoria’s Secret has come under fire over the last 18 months for the brand’s failure to adapt to changing market conditions, Wexner’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and alleged sexual harassment within the company. L Brand shares have fallen 83.4 percent since its peak in October 2015. The lingerie brand, while still the leader in women’s intimates apparel, has gone from owning 32 percent of the market in 2015, to just 24 percent in 2018.