Limited Brands: A Look at 50 Years
Limited Brands is an American fashion retailer. It was founded 50 years ago by Leslie Wexner. For twelve years Mr. Wexner worked with his parents at their store. In 1963, he borrowed $5,000 from his aunt and $5,000 from the bank and opened a store in a nearby shopping center. He named it “The Limited” because the store focused on clothing for younger women, unlike his parents’ general merchandise store. In 1969, The Limited Brands went public and in 1977 the company moved into its main headquarters to Columbus, Ohio.
The decades to come produced acquisitions, growth, and spin-off companies. In 1980 the first Limited Express opened in Chicago. Two years later, Express became the first separate division of Limited Brands. In 1982, Victoria’s Secret was purchased and 200 Lane Bryant stores were acquired. In 1985, a single Henri Bendel store and 800 Lerner New York stores were purchased. In 1988, 25 Abercrombie & Fitch stores were bought. The Limited then phased out its ownership of the A&F brand in 1996, when it was spun off into a publicly traded company. In 2001 Lane Bryant was sold to Charming Shoppes and in 2002 Lerner New York was sold and became New York and Company.
The 1990s saw the initial development of the Limited Too, Bath & Body Works, and Victoria’s Secret Beauty. The Limited Too, later known as Tween Brands, Inc., spun off in 1999. In 2007, Limited Brands sold off Express and transferred 75% ownership of its flagship Limited chain to buyout firm Sun Capital Partners Inc. In 2010, the remaining shares were sold to Sun Capital. No longer in charge of the Limited stores, Limited Brands currently operates the following retail brands: Victoria’s Secret, La Senza, Henri Bendel, and Bath & Body Works.
Limited Brands currently operates more than 2,600 specialty stores in the United States, and its brands are sold in almost 700 company-owned and franchised additional locations worldwide.
Limited Brands ended fiscal 2011 with over $10 billion in sales. Victoria’s Secret and La Senza represent more than $6 billion of that. Victoria’s Secret is America’s leading brand of women’s intimate apparel. La Senza is its Canadian counterpart. These companies and their locations, and Henri Bendel a women’s accessory retailer, can be found in Chain Store Guide’s database of Apparel Specialty Stores. Bath & Body Works and its locations can be found in Chain Store Guide’s database of Drug Stores and HBC Chains.
The company’s largest concept, Victoria’s Secret moved from 7th to 4th on Chain Store Guide’s Top Apparel Specialty Stores, ranked by headquarters sales. With over $6 billion it is the top women’s retailer on the list and does more than three times the sales of its next competitors, Ann Inc. and Chico’s. With the additions of Victoria’s Secret Beauty and the Pink line, the women’s apparel specialty retailer has continued to grow. Expect to see more of the same from Victoria’s Secret and Limited Brands.