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L Brands Shutting Down Luxury Retailer Henri Bendel After The Holidays

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Retail might be bifurcated into luxury and budget sectors these days, but that doesn't mean luxury brands have automatic success.

Henri Bendel
2013 tribute to artist Abe Hirschfeld in Henri Bendel store window, 712 Fifth Ave., Manhattan

Luxe retailer Henri Bendel, known for its designer handbags, fashion jewelry and accessories, is closing all of its 23 stores nationwide, including its Manhattan flagship.

The closure is planned for after the 2018 holiday season, according to L Brands — which acquired Henri Bendel more than 30 years ago. The brand's website will be shut down as well.

"We have decided to stop operating Bendel to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential,” L Brands Chairman and CEO Leslie Wexner said in a statement.

Columbus, Ohio-based L Brands estimates that Henri Bendel'sWarhol 2018 revenue and operating loss, excluding closing costs, will be about $85M and $45M, respectively. The company's other, and considerably larger, brands include Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works and La Senza.

Though the Henri Bendel brand has smaller-format locations in 11 states, the Fifth Avenue store in New York is its largest and best known.

The brand has roots in Manhattan that go back to 1895, when designer Henri Bendel, a native of Louisiana, opened a shop in Greenwich Village. Bendel sold women's apparel, fragrances and cosmetics and soon created his signature handbag.

According to L Brands, Henri Bendel was the first luxury retailer with an upper Fifth Avenue address, the first to hold a semiannual sale and the first to stage a fashion show. He was also responsible for bringing Coco Chanel to the United States, and in the 1960s, Andy Warhol was an in-house illustrator at the store.

As a part of L Brands, Henri Bendel opened its flagship store in 1991. In 2008, it began to open new stores outside of New York City.

Wexner has previously dropped other businesses to focus on segments that he believes are more profitable, the Wall Street Journal reports. During his tenure, Wexner has added and sold off several brands, including Abercrombie, Lane Bryant and Express. In 2016, he eliminated swimwear at Victoria’s Secret in favor of sportswear.

As a whole the carriage trade retail segment is doing well, but Henri Bendel isn't the only luxury retailer to suffer during the recent upheavals in retail. Last year, Michael Kors announced plans to close between 100 and 125 of its full-priced stores over the next two years in response to increased competition from discount retailers.