Frederick’s of Hollywood, the nearly 70-year-old purveyor of racy lingerie, has hired liquidators to help close one third of its 93 U.S. stores, including its flagship store in Hollywood.
After struggling to compete with bigger lingerie chains like Victoria’s Secret, which sells more mainstream and versatile undergarments, and the e-commerce lingerie market, Frederick’s is “in the process of re-engineering the whole business,” COO Bill Soncini told the [i]Wall Street Journal. [/i]
The Los Angeles-based company was founded in 1946 by Frederick Mellinger, the inventor of the push-up bra. In the ‘50s, pin-up icons like Bettie Page modeled its lingerie. The chain was the lingerie market leader until the 1980s, when Victoria’s Secret took over.
The stores’ closings were a long time coming. “These stores should have been closed years ago,” Sorcini said. The company has floundered for decades: it filed for bankruptcy in 2000, only to emerge three years later and go public in 2006. Harbinger Group took the company private in 2013, although the company had reported weak sales for a number of years and had more than a year of quarterly losses.
The company’s struggles stemmed in part from an outdated business strategy. While Victoria’s Secret put a premium on e-commerce, Frederick’s continued to rely on print catalogues, and its web strategy was weak. Victoria’s Secret also targeted a broader customer base–mothers and daughters both–while Frederick’s was aimed solely at younger women with its sexed-up designs.
Still, the store closings don’t necessarily spell doom for the company. It will continue to run some brick-and-mortar stores and focus on e-commerce sales.