Is Victoria’s Secret really ditching its catalogue?

Profits tumble as Sara Sampaio, Alessandra Ambrosio and co face an uncertain future.

The latest Victoria's Secret swimwear catalogue
Treading water? The 2016 Victoria's Secret swimwear range may be its last.

Victoria’s Secret is apparently considering the unthinkable and is set to ditch its catalogue.

Home to models including Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima, the Victoria’s Secret catalogue has been an essential, er, read for connoisseurs since 1978. But the lingerie overlords’ owner L Brands have indicated that they are “downgrading” the brochure’s importance.

Having showcased the launch of its 2016 VS Swim range last month, Victoria’s Secret has also revealed that it’s ditching swimwear as a separate brand. Which could well mean fewer videos featuring Candice Swanepoel, Behati Prinsloo and Lily Aldridge. Which is obviously madness.

Behati Prinsloo in the Victoria's Secret swimwear catalogue
Driving men Behati No more Behati Prinsloo in poses like this from Victoria's Secret? Possibly. Image Picture Stefanie Keenan

Shares in Victoria’s Secret fell by 2% when the news was announced.

So what are VS playing at? The decision to ditch what are its most attention-grabbing money-spinners seems like a late April Fool at first. But it’s part of the longterm plan to revitalise the image of Victoria’s Secret by new CEO Les Wexner, who took over as boss in February from veteran exec Sharon Jester-Turney.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs reckons the decision to publicly announce the axeing of Victoria’s Secret’s most famous brands is “unusual”. But banker Lindsay Drucker-Mann added that Wexner has a track record of successfully going against conventional retail wisdom.

“We’re comfortable that L Brands’ actions will create value in the longterm,” said Drucker-Mann. It’s expected ditching the catalogue will save VS £70m a year in modelling fees and other promotional expenses.

Victoria's Secret "musical guest" Demi Lovato
Demi God Demi Lovato is the musical guest of the 2016 Victoria's Secret VS Swim catalogue.

But fellow analyst Paul Lejeuz of Citi Bank said the decision to axe the catalogue is “every guy’s worst nightmare”, explaining: “Eliminating the catalogue could hurt sales. It makes Victoria’s Secret as a brand less at the top of people’s minds.”

Instead of swimwear, new boss Wexner said VS will focus on the increasingly successful sportswear range. “We’ve had a record year, and that’s the time to go from best to even better,” he said.

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