Victoria's Secret

The gate is closed to the entrance of Victoria’s Secret at The Galleria in Richland Township.

Overhead storefront security gates could be heard rising in The Galleria mall during opening hours Friday morning, but not at Victoria’s Secret. 

The lingerie, clothing and beauty retailer moved out this week, according to workers from the neighboring store, Bath & Body Works. 

The store teardown is evidenced by remnants of an advertisement that was ripped from a frame in the display window. 

But the loss of Victoria’s Secret didn’t appear to affect traffic at Bath & Body Works. Upon opening at 11 a.m. the store was packed with shoppers, including Addie Marsh, of Windber.

“The closure of Victoria’s Secret hit close to home,” Marsh said after leaving Bath & Body Works. “I’m sad for everybody and the employees who are out of a job.”

The Ohio-based L Brands Inc. operates Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and PINK.

The company is executing a plan to close 250 Victoria’s Secret stores in 2020 while also negotiating with landlords for ongoing rent relief, an L Brands statement read.

Through those closures, as well as several other companywide measures, L Brands expects to generate $400 million in annualized cost reductions.

According to the company’s statement, L Brands is making cost reductions to drive long-term shareholder value as well as work toward establishing Bath & Body Works as a pure-play public company and prepare the Victoria’s Secret to operate as a separate, standalone company.

L Brands owns and operates 2,897 specialty stores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and China. 

Its brands are also sold in more than 700 franchised locations worldwide.  

As of July 28, most Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret stores in North America have reopened, according to the company. 

“Total direct channel sales at both businesses are up significantly versus last year, offset by a decline in store sales, as stores were closed for periods of time during the quarter due to the COVID- 19 pandemic,” the company’s statement read. 

According to the company, its cash and liquidity position remains strong: its cash balance, as of July 24, was more than $2.5 billion, with no amounts drawn under its $1 billion asset-backed loan facility.

Overall, sales at both businesses have exceeded the company’s expectations for the second quarter of 2020.

“Total company net sales for the second quarter are expected to be down approximately 20% compared to last year, including an increase of roughly 10% at Bath & Body Works and an approximate 40% decline at Victoria’s Secret,” the company’s statement read. 

A statement attributed to L Brands Chief Executive Officer Andrew Meslow read: “We are pleased to have reopened most of our retail stores in North America and to be able to serve our customers both online and in person. Our teams are focused on safely welcoming our customers to our Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret locations and providing merchandise to meet their needs, while continuing to adhere to evolving local and state guidelines.”

Shopping malls in the Southern Alleghenies region including the Johnstown Galleria were allowed by the Pennsylvania government to reopen in June from a COVID-19 shutdown that started in mid-March. 

Since reopening in early June, the permanent closure of The Galleria’s Yankee Candle location had been confirmed with mall management. Mall management did not return calls to comment on Victoria’s Secret. 

In mid-July, The Galleria as a whole was placed on the list of properties to be sold at Cambria County’s Sept. 14 upset tax sale. The base bid is $1.1 million.

A sale would cap the months-long transition from previous ownership under Adar Johnstown LLC.  

Russ O'Reilly is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @RussellOReilly.

 

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