L Brands names new Victoria's Secret CEO, reshuffles brand leadership
Effective immediately, Martin Waters will become chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, replacing John Mehas, who has served in the role since February 2019. In addition, Laura Miller has been named chief human resources officer of Victoria’s Secret; Becky Behringer has been promoted to executive vice president of North America store sales and operations; and Janie Schaffer was named chief design officer of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie.
Bringing what L Brands called significant experience in strategic planning, merchandising, planning and allocation, brand management, marketing and supply chain operations, Waters will report to Stuart Burgdoerfer, interim CEO of Victoria’s Secret and CFO of L Brands.
Waters first joined L Brands in 2008 as head of the international division, and under his leadership the international business has expanded to more than 700 stores globally. Prior to his role with L Brands, he served as managing director for European beauty and health retailer, Boots International.
Miller brings over 30 years of human resources experience working in a variety of roles in large global organizations. She most recently served as the chief human resources officer of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd. Previously, she served as chief human resources officer for ADT, as well as Coca Cola Refreshments, and held a variety of HR roles at the Raytheon Company.
Behringer first joined Victoria’s Secret in 2002, and most recently served as senior vice president of store operations at Victoria’s Secret, where she oversaw the business’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Under her leadership, the North American stores organization was able to smoothly close, and later re-open stores in a phased approach with new health measures in place, the company said.
Schaffer brings more than 30 years of specialty retail experience to her new role, particularly in intimates. She previously served as director of lingerie and beauty at British retailer Marks and Spencer. From 2008 to 2012, she served as head of design for Victoria’s Secret Lingerie. Prior to joining Victoria’s Secret in 2008, Schaffer founded and then sold UK-based lingerie brand Knickerbox.
“The board and I are thrilled by the appointments of these talented leaders with demonstrated records of execution,” said Sarah Nash, chair of L Brands’ board of directors.
“Martin Waters is an experienced retail executive who has led our international business for the past 12 years. He is an exceptional leader and is widely respected both within and outside of our business. [Miller] brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role of CHRO, combined with a passion for helping people reach their full potential. [Behringer's] deep knowledge of our stores organization and the customer will help us deliver success as we approach the Holiday season and beyond. [Schaffer] is a proven leader with a record of creating and re-positioning brands and growing profitable sales across international markets.”
The appointments come as Victoria's Secret, which operates both the Victoria's Secret and Pink labels, works to rebuild itself after suffering significant damage to its sales figures and reputation in recent years; amidst changing consumer taste in intimates, a desire for more representation in the world of lingerie, reports of a company culture full of bullying and the public disgrace of VS and L Brands leaders Ed Razek and Leslie Wexner.
In February, L Brands announced its plan to sell a majority stake in its Victoria's Secret brand to Sycamore Partners, an investment firm, for $525 million. However, Sycamore later backed out of the deal in April, causing shares in L Brands to sink 27%.
After the deal fell through, L Brands announced in May that it would prepare to spin off Victoria's Secret as a stand alone company, allowing both the lingerie brand and Bath & Body Works to operate as separate businesses. The spin-off plan, which has yet to be finalized, also came with the decision to close about 250 Victoria's Secret stores in the U.S. and Canada throughout 2020.
In September, L Brands said British clothing retailer Next Plc would acquire a majority stake in its Victoria's Secret UK business under a newly formed joint venture. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Earlier this month, L Brands announced net income of $330.58 million, or $1.17 per share, for the third quarter, as performances improved across its brands. In the prior-year period, the company reported a loss of $251.99 million, or $0.91 per share.
Year to date, the company’s revenues decreased 14.4% year over year, falling from $8.21 billion to $7.03 billion.
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