Victoria's Secret names new CEO amid slumping sales

NEW YORK • US lingerie giant Victoria's Secret announced on Monday that it had appointed fashion executive John Mehas as new chief executive of its lingerie division, hoping to boost its ailing fortunes.

He will take over in the new year, replacing Ms Jan Singer, who has resigned. The brand is battling slumping sales and has come under fire for idealised glamazonian femininity and its reluctance to put larger and transgender models on the catwalk.

Mr Mehas' appointment was announced as Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands reported third-quarter results with a net loss of US$42.8 million (S$58.7 million), compared with net income of US$86 million last year.

"Our No. 1 priority is improving performance," said L Brands chairman and CEO Leslie Wexner.

"Our new leaders are coming in with a fresh perspective and looking at everything... our marketing, brand positioning, internal talent, real estate portfolio and cost structure," he added.

"I am confident that, under John's leadership, Victoria's Secret Lingerie... will continue to be a powerhouse and will deliver products and experiences that resonate with women around the globe."

Mr Mehas comes to Victoria's Secret, the lingerie market leader in the US, from Tory Burch, where he is currently president. He previously led Club Monaco for 13 years as president and CEO. He has also worked at The Gap and department store chain Bloomingdale's.

Ms Singer had been on the job since September 2016. No reason has been publicly announced for her departure.

Earlier this month, Victoria's Secret marketing director Ed Razek provoked uproar on social media for telling Vogue that there was no need for transgender or plus-size models in this year's fashion show.

"No, I don't think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special," said Mr Razek, who subsequently issued a public apology.

Victoria's Secret hired some of the world's most famous models and filmed their annual fashion show in New York on Nov 8. It will be aired globally next month.

In the US, the show provoked ire for its uniform use of slender models at a time when US women feel increasingly empowered by the #MeToo movement and with lingerie brands that promote all shapes and sizes - such as Rihanna's new Savage X Fenty line - making inroads.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'Victoria's Secret names new CEO amid slumping sales'. Print Edition | Subscribe