Henri Bendel opened its doors in New York’s Greenwich Village at the end of the 19th century. According to its website, the brand became one of the first luxury retailers to open a flagship store in 1913 with an “upper Fifth Avenue address.”
Now, 123 years later the luxury retailer is closing its doors. L Brands Inc. acquired the brand in 1985 and recently announced that the 23 Bendel stores left will lock its doors for good in January. The Thursday announcement also mentioned the closing of Bendel’s website and all stores including the store’s most iconic Fifth Avenue location in New York due to a lack of sales.
L Brands said in a statement that its reasoning to closing Bendel is “to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential.” Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works are two other brands under L Brands supervision.
According to CNN Money, Bendel contributes a small portion of L Brands’ sales. The company reported revenue of $12.6 billion last year, with only $85 million coming from Bendel’s 2018 sales.
L Brands’ competition certainly increased in the retail industry leaving the company with a difficult time in 2018. Stock is down 55 percent for the year, making it one of the worst performing companies in the S&P 500 for 2018.
Even Victoria’s Secret has seen profit and sales declining, which has nearly 1,200 stores and is the company’s largest unit. Bath & Body Works, with roughly 1,700 stores, seemed to be the only company to improve. Its operating income rose 13 percent to $292 million.
Although Bendel will be disappearing soon, its “accomplishments” will not be forgotten. Bendel was the first retailer to brand himself, the first luxury retailer with an upper Fifth Avenue address, the first to hold a semi-annual sale, the first to offer in-store makeovers, and the first to stage a fashion show, according to its website. The brand also noted that Bendel was responsible for bringing Coco Chanel to the United States and is also credited with discovering Andy Warhol, who was brought on as an in-house illustrator.