The billionaire businessman behind Victoria's Secret is reportedly in talks to step down as CEO and sell the lingerie brand

  • Les Wexner, the billionaire businessman behind L Brands, is reportedly "in discussions" to step down as CEO of the company and sell the Victoria's Secret brand, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
  • Sources familiar with the matter also told The Journal that the company is looking to reach a potential deal in the coming weeks. A spokesperson from L Brands declined to comment on this when contacted by Business Insider. 
  • Wexner founded what is now L Brands in 1963 and is the longest-standing CEO of any Fortune 500 company. 
  • The news of his possible departure and the selling of the Victoria's Secret brand comes after several years of declining sales and pressure from analysts and shareholders to address concerns over the business. 
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Retail billionaire Les Wexner is reportedly "in discussions" to step down as CEO from L Brands, the company behind Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal

Sources familiar with the matter told The Journal that Wexner is also considering selling part of, or all of, Victoria's Secret. 

"The company is looking to reach a decision on the potential deal and succession plans in coming weeks," Journal reporters Khadeeja Safdar and Corrie Driebusch wrote early Thursday morning, quoting their sources. 

A spokesperson for L Brands declined to comment on this when contacted by Business Insider.  

Wexner founded what is now L Brands in 1963 and is the longest-standing CEO of any Fortune 500 company.

The news of his possible departure and the selling of Victoria's Secret comes after several years of declining sales and pressure from analysts and shareholders to address concerns over the business. 

While Victoria's Secret is still the largest lingerie retailer in the US, its market share in the US has dropped in recent years and the brand has been accused of losing relevance among shoppers as its oversexualized ads and racy runway shows fail to resonate in the era of #MeToo. 

This came to a head in November, after a Vogue interview with Ed Razek – chief marketing officer of Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands and one of its longest-standing executives after only Wexner himself – went viral online. Razek told the interviewer that he didn't think the company's annual fashion show should feature "transsexuals" because the show is a "fantasy."

"It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is," he said in the interview.

His comments sparked an outcry online, which later led to him issuing a formal apology. Razek later stepped down from the company in August. 

In the summer of 2019, the company faced a new challenge after it was caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Epstein previously managed the money of L Brands CEO and founder Les Wexner and two were reportedly once close friends.

L Brands' board of directors hired an outside law firm to review its relationship with Epstein. In September, Wexner addressed his ties to Epstein at L Brands' investor meeting.

"At some point in your life we are all betrayed by friends," Wexner said. "Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I'm embarrassed I was even close to. But that is in the past."

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Victoria's Secret CEO Les Wexner
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Victoria's Secret CEO Les Wexner
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Les Wexner (L) and Stella Maxwell pose at the 2016 Fragrance Foundation Awards presented by Hearst Magazines - Show on June 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Fragrance Foundation)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Les Wexner speaks onstage at the 2016 Fragrance Foundation Awards presented by Hearst Magazines - Show on June 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Fragrance Foundation)
In this Sept. 19, 2014 file photo, retail mogul Leslie Wexner, right, and his wife Abigail tour the "Transfigurations" exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. The retail titan behind Victoria's Secret says the financier Jeffrey Epstein misappropriated "vast sums" of his fortune while managing his personal finances. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: (L-R) Les Wexner, Abigail Wexner, and Ed Razek pose backstage at the 2016 Fragrance Foundation Awards presented by Hearst Magazines - Show on June 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Fragrance Foundation)
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SEE ALSO: The rise and fall of Victoria's Secret, America's biggest lingerie retailer

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