L Brands on Thursday said that board member Sarah Nash will replace founder Les Wexner as company chair, once the retailer closes on its deal to sell a majority stake in Victoria's Secret to private equity firm Sycamore Partners.
That's also when Wexner will step down as CEO and assume a chairman emeritus position. Nash will also be the board's lead independent director when current lead independent director Allan Tessler retires at the company's annual meeting, along with directors Gordon Gee and Raymond Zimmerman, the company said.
Nash is CEO of industrial products manufacturer Novagard Solutions, and joined the L Brands board last year, according to a company press release.
L Brands, once it unloads its majority stake in Victoria's Secret, could become the envy of many retailers, which are reporting significant traffic declines to stores as consumers take precautions against COVID-19, a disease caused by a member of the coronavirus family.
While the company is also likely to suffer from shoppers' increasing avoidance of brick-and-mortar stores, especially at malls, its well performing Bath & Body Works unit, now its major enterprise, is poised to gain some sales as consumers avail themselves of the brands' soaps and antiseptic cleansers.
Victoria's Secret, meanwhile, which consistently failed in recent years to notice consumers' rejection of its sexualized marketing and lingerie designs, will soon be mostly Sycamore Partners' problem. The firm is purchasing a 55% stake in the brand for about $525 million, with L Brands keeping 45%.
The appointment of a woman to replace Wexner holds symbolic significance. In addition to the slow reaction of his flagship brand to changing tastes strongly influenced by the #MeToo movement, the apparel magnate at the company's annual meeting last year was compelled to distance himself from disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, with whom he had personal and financial ties. The relationship "happened a long time ago," Wexner said in September of Epstein, whose death in prison last year was ruled a suicide, adding that he was "embarrassed" to have been "taken advantage of by someone who is so sick, so cunning and so depraved."
Nash, meanwhile, has "brought fresh perspectives to L Brands since joining the Board last year, and her wealth of experience advising companies in their strategic and financial initiatives make her ideally suited to serve as Chair," Tessler said in a statement.