Victoria’s Secret interim CEO stepping down in the midst of turnaround

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Victoria’s Secret’s interim CEO is stepping down in the middle of a turnaround of the troubled lingerie company. 

Stuart Burgdoerfer, the longtime CFO of the company’s parent, L Brands, had served as interim CEO of Victoria’s Secret for the past nine months and has helped steer sales upward despite the pandemic by streamlining its product offerings and widening the customer base, including through plus-sized models.

Burgdoerfer, 57, told the company’s board in January that he wants to retire after a 20-year career with the Columbus, Oh-based company, L Brands said in a statement on Thursday.

Martin Waters, currently CEO of Victoria’s Secret lingerie, has been promoted to CEO of the Victoria’s Secret business effective immediately and will report to L Brands’ CEO Andrew Meslow.

“The Board and I are extremely grateful to Stuart for his leadership during his 20-year career at L Brands,” said Sarah Nash, chair of L Brands’ board. “In the last nine months, he has led the turnaround of the Victoria’s Secret business in addition to continuing to lead L Brands’ finance organization as CFO. He will be missed, and we appreciate that he will remain with the business to see us through the planned separation process.” 

Burgdoerfer said he will remain CFO until the Victoria Secret business is spun off as a separate company, likely sometime by August the company said.

The company also said on Thursday that it’s raising its guidance for the fourth quarter due to strong sales trends in January.

BMO analyst Simeon Siegel agreed that Victoria’s Secret appears to have turned a corner since Burgdoerfer took charge, after L Brands longtime CEO Les Wexner retired amid criticisms of his ties to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.  

“Investors viewed Victoria’s Secret as a $1 to $3 billion liability one year ago, which is why they wanted the brand jettisoned at all costs,” Siegel said. But under Burgdoerfer’s leadership the lingerie company, “is viewed as an asset worth anywhere from $1 to $5 billion.”  

L Brands stock was up nearly 4 percent to more than $45 on Thursday morning, likely on excitement over the planned spinoff.

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