The Retail Apocalypse Continues: L Brands to Close All Henri Bendel Stores
After 123 years in business, department store Henri Bendel is closing up shop for good after the holiday season, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Known for its brown-and-white-striped bags, Henri Bendel was founded in 1895 by its namesake, a designer from Louisiana. When L Brands (LB) acquired Henri Bendel in 1985, it was by far the most luxury holding in its portfolio of mall retailers, which includes Bath & Body Works. It expanded Henri Bendel outside of New York City in 2008, and in 2009 stopped selling apparel to focus on just handbags and accessories. Now all 23 of its stores and its e-commerce website will close in early 2019.
In its heyday, Henri Bendel was as iconic a New York department store as Bergdorf’s and Bloomingdale’s. It claims to have pioneered the semiannual sale and store-in-store displays. It introduced Coco Chanel‘s designs to the United States in 1913, and it employed Andy Warhol as an in-house illustrator in the 1960s. Recently, though, observers say the old-school presentation of luxury hasn’t been resonating with millennial women, who prefer more subtle brands.
In closing down Henri Bendel, L Brands said it wants to focus more on its core businesses, such as Victoria’s Secret, which has struggled in recent quarters. L Brands reported revenue of $12.6 billion last year; Henri Bendel accounted for $85 million of that. It recently cut its full-year earnings guidance due to Victoria’s Secret’s declining sales.
It’s a tough time for department stores in the United States generally. Lord & Taylor announced this summer it was closing up to 10 of its 50 stores, including its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City. Shopping center operator Westfield reported last year just 28% of revenues now come from department stores, compared to 42% a decade ago. Macy’s (M) is seeing some improvement in sales so far with its plan to make stores nicer, however; it recently raised its forecast for the year.