Thu, 22 Apr 2021

NEW YORK, New York: As lingerie company Victoria's Secret prepares to look for a new owner, the price tag for the company may have grown from $1 billion at the start of the pandemic to $4 billion today, according to industry observers.

In spring 2020, L Brands, the owner of Victoria Secret, was forced into leaving a deal with private-equity fund Sycamore Partners, which would have seen a 55 percent stake of the company sold for $525 million.

Prior to closing, Sycamore sued to prevent the sale when they learned that too many Victoria's Secret's stores had ceased paying rent due to the pandemic.

In the year that followed, Victoria's Secret carried out very aggressive cost savings and, most importantly, began selling its fabled lingeries in a variety of sizes to full-sized women.

Victoria's Secret's owner L Brands has now brought on Goldman Sachs to seek out a buyer.

Just this week, L Brands announced that Victoria's Secret's fourth-quarter earnings, before interest and taxes, more than doubled from last year.

One of the keys in returning the company to profitability was the quiet shift from discounting to charging full-price for all products.

Berna Barshay, editor of Empire Financial Daily, a New York-based newsletter, confirms that "the more bullish buyside estimates at hedge funds are north of $4 billion" for a Victoria's Secret sale, which the company is aiming to wrap up by August, she told the New York Post

The brand was valued at $15 billion just five years ago, she noted.

"Sycamore had a steal at $1 billion and will have regrets over busting out of the deal," Barshay added. "I think Sycamore panicked and Victoria's Secret weathered the storm better than people would have expected," said Barshay.

Clearly the strategy of eliminating discounts, coupled with aggressive cost cutting and shutting 250 of the company's 900 stores, along with massive layoffs, turned the company around.

"We are moving away from what we think is sexy, to support her in whatever she thinks she needs," said Martin Waters, chief executive of Victoria's Secret lingerie, told the New York Post. "We think we should be appealing to all women for more stages of her life [and] we haven't always had that balance right, which has led to opportunities for competitors being able to attack us."

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