Next in final stages of buying UK arm of Victoria’s Secret

Next is finalising a deal to take on the UK arm of the lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, which fell into administration last month.

The brand, once renowned for its controversial fashion shows featuring models known as “angels”, would give Next access to a potentially younger consumer.

It would mark the retailer’s second bold move into new markets during the coronavirus crisis after it signed up at least three former Debenhams’ outlets in order to create its own beauty halls.

Next is thought to have fought off rival bids from firms including Marks & Spencer, which considered using Victoria’s Secret alongside other brands as part of plans to liven up its online store.

The fashion and homewares retailer already sells a portfolio of brands via its Label catalogue and online business and previously acquired the younger brand Lipsy to help broaden its appeal.

The deal would not affect the Victoria’s Secret business in the US, which is owned by L Brands. L Brands has said it wants to split off Victoria’s Secret to concentrate on its health and beauty chainBath & Body Works, but a deal to sell a majority stake to the Sycamore private equity firm collapsed in the light of the pandemic.

The company put the British division of Victoria’s Secret, which has about 25 stores and employs more than 800 people, into administration in June after a stormy period during which sales fell and the UK division slumped to a pre-tax loss of £171m.

It is thought unlikely that Next will keep all the stores and the final deal will depend on negotiations with landlords. The company has been handed exclusive rights to negotiate until September, according to Sky News, which first reported Next’s interest.

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