FINANCE

Henri Bendel to go out of business

BY Marianne Wilson

The upcoming holiday season will be the last one for upscale specialty retailer Henri Bendel, which has been in business for 123 years.

L Brands, which acquired Bendel in 1985, announced it will close all 23 Henri Bendel stores and its e-commerce website. The stores, which include the company’s ornate and lavish flagship on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue as well as smaller-format locations in 11 states, and website will go dark in January. New merchandise will continue to arrive throughout the holiday season.

L Brands said it was making the move as part of its ongoing effort to improve overall business performance and increase shareholder value by focusing on its core brands, which include Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret.

“As part of that effort, we have decided to stop operating Bendel to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential,” said Leslie Wexner, chairman and CEO of L Brands. “This decision is right for the future growth of our company, but not easy because of the impact to our L Brands family.”

Bendel has been struggling with sluggish sales for some time. It also has faced merchandise challenges. In 2014, the retailer cut ties with third-party vendors, reported Women’s Wear Daily, to concentrate on selling accessories under its own label, along with beauty items.

L Brands said that Bendel’s 2018 revenues and operating loss, excluding closing costs, will be approximately $85 million and $45 million, respectively. The company is in the process of estimating the costs associated with closing the business.

The associates who stay with Bendel through January will be offered retention bonuses. At the point when associates’ positions are eliminated, they will be invited to interview for open positions within the company or will be offered separation pay and job search support services.

L Brands, through Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel, operates 3,084 company-owned specialty stores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Greater China , and its brands are sold in more than 800 additional franchised locations worldwide. The company’s products are also available online.

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