UPDATE: The Limited posted a message to its website on Friday afternoon stating it had officially closed all 250 stores nationwide, but clarified to shoppers that "This isn't goodbye." The apparel retailer will continue operations online.
On Thursday, the chain’s website had listed nearly 100 stores offering “inventory blowout” sales.
A request for comment from Retail Dive was not immediately returned on Thursday. Contrary to a report from Racked, customer service lines were still working then.
The Limited’s store closings shouldn't shock anyone, considering its ongoing public plans for restructuring, hopes for finding a buyer and reported preparation for bankruptcy.
In the midst of the troubles, the retailer is also missing top executives: John Buell, elevated from his CFO role to become interim CEO when CEO Diane Ellis left to become president of women’s apparel brand Chico's in October, left the company after less than two months in that position. Buell abandoned ship to become the senior vice president and CFO of fashion and home decor brand Altar’d State.
The Limited also recently notified the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that it could lay off its entire headquarters staff and close down that Columbus, OH-area office as it struggles with plummeting sales. Its difficulties accumulated since leaving the stable of chains operated by former parent L Brands (owner of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works), which sold a 75% stake in The Limited to private equity firm Sun Capital in 2007; three years later, Sun acquired the remaining 25% stake.
While Sun Capital touted The Limited as a place to buy “upscale” women’s clothing, the women’s apparel retailer closed out 2016 as a shadow of its former self, beset by falling traffic and offering styles that can also be found at rivals like Loft and at department stores. Some malls, themselves suffering from falling foot traffic as e-commerce sales rise, aren’t always especially helpful to stores like The Limited. The retailer's appeal may have been muddled further by its recent “Backroom” off-price effort.
Limited Stores has hired RAS Management Advisors to advise on strategic and financial alternatives, including a potential restructuring, sources familiar with the matter told Debtwire, and the company has also hired Kirkland & Ellis as its legal adviser, according to Bloomberg. The Limited, Guggenheim Partners and RAS Management haven't responded to requests for comment.