Victoria’s Secret UK arm goes into administration

Victoria's Secret models Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Victoria’s Secret fashion shows were cancelled in 2019 as they were branded as “sexist” and “dated”

The UK arm of Victoria’s Secret has fallen into administration, putting more than 800 jobs at risk.

The chain, famous for its fashion shows, has 25 shops in the UK, all of which have been shut since the virus lockdown started in March.

Administrator Deloitte said there would be no immediate redundancies as it tries to find a buyer for the chain.

Rob Harding of Deloitte said it was “yet another blow to the UK High Street” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the chain had already been hit by changing consumer tastes and weakened spending.

The UK arm made an operating loss of £170m in the year to February 2019, according to the most recent filings available.

Outdated?

Last year, its annual fashion show was cancelled, with the company blaming poor television ratings.

The show launched in 1995 and was once a major pop culture event, drawing millions of viewers each year to watch its so-called “angels”.

In 2018 it saw its lowest ratings ever, drawing criticism that it was sexist, outdated and lacked diversity.

The brand’s parent company L Brands said it was important to “evolve” its marketing strategy at the time.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show launched the careers of several supermodels

The firm had already furloughed 785 workers before appointing administrators.

Deloitte described the administration as “light touch”, meaning the management are allowed to keep running the business.

It will now attempt to find another buyer for its assets, or re-negotiate rents on its High Street stores in a bid to improve the firm’s financial situation.

Retail woes

Mr Harding added that this was a “further example of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the entire retail industry.”

“The effect of the lockdowns, combined with broader challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, has resulted in a funding requirement for this business, resulting in today’s administration.”

Several other High Street brands have been struggling in recent weeks due to lockdown measures introduced in March to stop the spread of the virus.

Image copyright Getty Images

Both fashion firms Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley, for example, have called in administrators since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

However, Victoria’s Secret has arguably been eclipsed in recent years by brands such as Savage X Fenty, the lingerie line by singer, actress and businesswoman Rihanna, whose events showcase a range of body types.

There was also a furious response to an interview in Vogue with then chief marketing officer Ed Razek. He suggested “transsexual” people should not be a part of the fashion show. He later left the company.

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