Victoria’s Secret’s Angels won’t be strutting their stuff down the catwalk this year. That’s because, after much speculation, company executives broke their silence and confirmed that this year’s show has been canceled.
“We think it’s important to evolve the marketing of Victoria’s Secret,” Stuart B. Burgdoerfer, chief financial officer and executive vice president of L Brands, parent company to Victoria’s Secret, said on Thursday morning’s conference call with analysts. “There will be more to come as that continues to get evaluated.
“We recognize and appreciate that the communication of the brand, the offerings, the emotional content of Victoria Secret is obviously an important thing,” he continued. “[The show] was a very important part of the brand building of this business and was an important aspect of the brand and a remarkable marketing achievement. And with that said, we’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers and that’s among the things that [Victoria’s Secret chief executive officer] John [Mehas] is focused on.”
Victoria’s Secret first signaled the end to the annual fashion show — once regarded as one of the hottest industry events — last May when L Brands founder, chairman and ceo Leslie Wexner released an internal memo to employees saying he had “decided to rethink” the show.
“Going forward we don’t believe network television is the right fit,” Wexner said. “Fashion is a business of change. We must evolve and change to grow.”
But the company never specified what that meant. Some speculated that the show would move to a streaming service.
Meanwhile, models — including Devon Windsor, Sofie Rovenstine and Shanina Shaik — all came forward saying the show had been canceled. But the company remained silent, even during its September Investor Update Day in L Brand’s Columbus, Ohio, headquarters.
Burgdoerfer’s comments on Thursday that the show has been canceled leads others to wonder how the company will fare during the crucial holiday season.
When the show was first put on hold, analysts and investors praised the move, saying it would save the company from spending lavishly on the spectacle.
But spending aside, while the show did drum up controversy, it was also the ultimate marketing tool, broadcasting Victoria’s Secret’s latest lingerie to millions of people around the world in the midst of a prime shopping season.
Just what the business plans to do instead is unclear. Burgdoerfer said they’ll continue to communicate with customers through other channels, including social media. “But nothing that I would say is similar in magnitude to the fashion show,” he said.
Still, many retail companies count the fourth quarter as their highest grossing quarter in terms of both sales and profits. And the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year — when shopping goes into overdrive — is six days shorter than in 2018.
That time is something Victoria’s Secret clearly needs. Total revenues at the Victoria’s Secret business have been on the decline since 2017. The most recent quarter was no exception, with the core Victoria’s Secret brand falling short on both top and bottom lines.
The company has made a number of concessions in the last year in an attempt to turn the brand and its image around. These include bringing back swimwear; selling off unprofitable businesses; hiring its first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio, then plus-size model Ali Tate Cutler, and working with other lingerie brands, like Livy and Bluebella.
“It’s a work in progress,” Burgdoerfer said on the call. “[There have been] some signs of success, but the overall result is not what we want it to be. The team is very focused on it.”
Investors seemed pleased by the call. The retailer’s stock closed up 10.13 percent to $17.17 a share Thursday.
“This is a business that’s had challenges in lingerie now for three or four years and it’s going to take some time to stabilize it and get it back to where it should be,” Burgdoerfer added. “We believe the most important thing is the quality of the merchandise itself, the quality of our execution and selling in stores and online.”
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