L Brands decides against opening La Senza stores in U.S. this year

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  • L Brands
    A La Senza store in Canada

February 28, 2014

L Brands has put on hold plans to open as many as six La Senza stores in the United States this year.

The Columbus-based retailer, parent of chains including Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, bought the Canadian lingerie retailer in 2006. Since then, La Senza has been overhauled and many locations were closed. Last August, L Brands moved La Senza’s distribution center from Canada to Ohio.

Those changes had gone so well that, last May, Leslie H. Wexner, founder and CEO of L Brands, said, “The La Senza fleet is now in tiptop shape.”

Soon afterward, L Brands announced plans to open as many as six La Senza stores in the U.S. market.

But L Brands executives said yesterday that a downturn in La Senza’s business during the fourth quarter prompted it to “defer entry into the United States for the time being.”

A year ago, Canadian retail veterans mused that La Senza might eventually exist strictly as a franchise business outside Canada. La Senza has more than 300 franchised stores in more than 30 countries around the world.

They pointed to difficulties that L Brands faced in differentiating La Senza from its other lingerie brands, Victoria’s Secret and Pink.

Victoria’s Secret and Pink “are very complementary,” Wexner said during an investor conference in 2012. “To define a third (brand) that was unique and different was difficult to do.”

Wexner said that the retailer eventually had come up with an image for La Senza of “bad girls."

“This is the kind of lingerie that’s fun when you buy it, fun when you try it, fun when you take it off,” he said.

tferan@dispatch.com