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After wide speculation that it would be among the first retail bankruptcies of 2017, The Limited is closing all of its stores and cutting 4,000 jobs.
Media outlets in Ohio, North Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, and Wisconsin initially reported that their local Limited stores would be closing on January 7th, often with “everything must go” and “all sales final” sales. Racked received a tip that all stores would indeed be closing on that date; but when Racked reached out to Sun Capital Partners, The Limited’s owner, it declined to comment.
On Friday night, January 6th, The Limited confirmed Racked’s reporting from earlier in the week, posting a statement to its website that all 250 of its stores were indeed closing, and that the brand would live on through e-commerce.
"We're sad to say that all The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors," the note read. "But this isn't goodbye. The styles you love are still available online — we're just a quick click away 24 hours a day." Sun Capital told Reuters that even though it “worked very hard and made significant investments over nine years to improve operations and create a sustainable business at The Limited, we are very disappointed that the company has had to make the difficult decision to close its retail locations." Fortune is reporting that the store closures will cost as many as 4,000 people their jobs.
The folding of The Limited stores truly marks the end of an era, at least as far as mall brands are concerned. While it’s been in a downward spiral for some time now, there are fans who will be disappointed.
Founded in 1963 in Columbus, Ohio, The Limited was designed to succeed in the American mall. It was the seed of what would become the successful retail umbrella of L Brands, which has big blockbuster brands like Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. The Limited sold work-appropriate attire and flourished for many years as a mall staple.
But malls are dying, and so with them are its cornerstones. This saga involves plenty of the other mall brands kicking the bucket: We’ve seen brands like Wet Seal, PacSun, Delia's, and Deb have their struggles too, not to mention the conflicts of teen retailer Aeropostale and the slow death of sports retailers.
On December 20th, Bloomberg reported that The Limited was planning to file for bankruptcy “within weeks,” and would most likely liquidate its stores as well. In December, Forbes spoke with an employee at a store in New Jersey who said that location might be closing, and that exchanges on things bought after December 5th wouldn’t be honored. An acting store manager at a Scottsdale, Arizona location of The Limited also confirmed to the Phoenix Business Journal that the company will be filing for bankruptcy. Racked reached out to Kirkland & Ellis, its legal adviser for these bankruptcy filings, but did not receive a response.
Earlier last month, there were layoffs at the company’s headquarters in New Albany, Ohio, and a letter sent around to employees read that its results were “very disappointing” because the brand “substantially” missed expectations. Over the last few months, some executives have also jumped ship. Its CEO, Diane Ellis, left for Chico’s in October. And John Buell, who was hired to replace her, left for Altar’d State, according to Bloomberg.
The Limited’s customer service line has been going in and out of service; at the time of this publication, it was instructing callers to “please hang up now.”
In 2007, L Brands sold The Limited as a spinoff to Sun Capital Partners, and L Brands sold off its final stake in 2010. At that time, it tried to pivot to become more fashionable, according to the New York Times, but the nail was already in the coffin.
Even if you aren’t a regular shopper at The Limited, there’s plenty of items on sale now that are worth purchasing, if just for the sake of nostalgia. Most notably, there’s 50% off all dresses and pants, plus a $50 fragrance marked down to $10. There’s also decent discounts on the recent collab with Eva Longoria, which includes items like pinstripe pussy bow blouses and office-appropriate A-line dresses. Also, a choker.
Update: January 9, 2016, 10:30 a.m.
This story has been updated throughout to reflect this weekend’s confirmation of The Limited shuttering all its stores.