Sorry, #bendelgirls. After 123 years in business, the beloved Henri Bendel is closing shop. On Thursday, its owner L Brands announced it will be shutting down all 23 Henri Bendel stores, including the 714 5th Avenue flagship in New York City, and its e-commerce site by January 2019. (New merchandise, however, will continue to be sold through the holiday season.)
The decision comes after a conclusion that it essentially costs more to keep Bendel alive than to just pull the plug. A recent revenue report disclosed that the company is on track to make $85 million this year, but its operating losses would total around $45 million. This was not the outcome L Brands anticipated when it acquired Henri Bendel in 1985, predicting it'd turn into a $1 billion luxury business. The group has concluded that Bendel was standing in the way of its other growth opportunities. A $10.5 billion company, L Brands also owns Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, PINK, and more.
"We are committed to improving performance in the business and increasing shareholder value. As part of that effort, we have decided to stop operating Bendel to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential," chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Wexner told WWD. "This decision is right for the future growth of our company, but not easy because of the impact to our L Brands family. I want to thank our Bendel associates for their dedication to this iconic brand and to our loyal Bendel customers." WWD also reports that employees will be offered retention bonuses and opportunities to apply for other jobs within the L Brands group, as well as severance pay and job search support resources.
Once a go-to for high-end labels, Bendel's struggled to compete with neighboring department stores like Bergdorf Goodman's and Saks Fifth Avenue, which both sell similar goods. In 2014, the company began selling its own line of accessories, and beauty products, both of which never took on. Founded in 1895 by Louisiana milliner Henri Bendel, the store influenced fashion history in major ways. For example, Bendel was the first to sell Coco Chanel's designs stateside, and during the '60s, Andy Warhol was once the brand's in-house illustrator.