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(Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Henri Bendel) The famous brown-and-white striped shopping bags of luxury retailer Henri Bendel will soon be history as parent company L Brands is set to shut all of Henri Bendels 23 storesincluding its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York Citycome January. But dont blame the troubles just on its larger sister chain Victorias Secret. In a statement late Thursday, L Brands chairman and CEOLes Wexner said hes shutting downtheBendel stores and online operations because the company, which also owns Bath & Body Works, wants to improve profitability and focus on its larger brands that have greater growth potential. Yes, Victorias Secret, with nearly 1,200 stores and the companys largest unit, has seen profit and sales declining as even demand for its once-hip and younger label Pink has faltered. But Henri Bendel itself has been losing money:L Brands estimates that Henri Bendels 2018 sales and operating loss, excluding closing costs, will total $85 million and $45 million, respectively. While that business is small compared to the $12.6 billion in sales L Brands generated last year, the loss was outsized in comparison. L Brands other segment, which includes Henri Bendel and the companys acquired Canadian lingerie chain La Senza, has posted year-to-date operating loss of $93 million, which isatminimumthe third year its not made money. That was about half of Victorias Secrets operating profit of $197 millionafter a 42% slumpduring the same period. Bath & Body Works, with about 1,700 stores, was the only bright spot, with operating income rising 13% to $292 million. Henri Bendels losses and closings also reflected challenges facing the brick-and-mortar luxury space as it struggles to compete against an increased shift to online purchases on marketplaces like Farfetch, which recently filed its IPO plan.
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