Victoria’s Secret CEO stepping down after eight months on the job

Discussion
Photo: Victoria’s Secret & Co.
Jan 04, 2023

Amy Hauk is stepping down as CEO of Victoria’s Secret on March 31 after having just been named to lead the lingerie giant in July.

The chain’s parent, Victoria’s Secret & Co. (VS&Co), said Ms. Hauk is leaving to spend more time with her family in Florida, reports The Columbus Dispatch.

Ms. Hauk, who also served as CEO of PINK since 2018, will be replaced by Martin Waters, CEO of VS&Co, on a permanent basis at the lingerie chain.

The news of Ms. Hauk’s departure came on the same day that VS&Co closed on a $400 million deal to acquire Adore Me, an online lingerie brand. Adore Me, which was founded in 2011, is profitable and has over 1.2 million active customers. The company, which offers items in 77 different sizes, appeals to a younger and more diverse group of customers than Victoria’s Secret. It is also the only B Corp Certified lingerie brand based in the U.S.

The deal for Adore Me, which was first announced in November, is expected to make a major contribution to boosting  Victoria’s Secret digital expertise. Adore Me is known for its “Home Try-On” and monthly subscription service. Members pay a styling fee and receive four to seven lingerie and loungewear items monthly, paying for only the items that they keep.

“From the beginning, we evaluated Adore Me as a two for one opportunity — a technology-led, digital-first innovator in the intimates category and a highly efficient, growing and profitable standalone business model,” said Mr. Waters in a statement. “I am thrilled with the swift completion of the acquisition and excited to welcome the entire Adore Me team into the VS&Co family.”

“In Adore Me, we have acquired a business and a team that will help us deliver improved, elevated and differentiated experiences for Victoria’s Secret and PINK customers. This acquisition will be a significant accelerant as we pivot toward growth and modernize the foundation of our company with technology at the forefront of everything we do,” he said.

Adore Me’s sales were expected to reach $240 million last year. The company, which will continue to operate as a standalone business, is led by its founder and CEO Morgan Hermand. It currently operates six mall-based stores in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect that Amy Hauk’s planned departure will have an effect on the Victoria’s Secret or PINK businesses? What will be the keys to successfully integrating Adore Me’s technology into the rest of VS&C’s businesses?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"It seems Victoria’s Secret may be looking for quick fixes rather than long-term strategies."
"Whenever I read that an executive is leaving to 'spend more time with the family,' it raises more questions than it answers."
"Strategies and directions change, and perhaps Amy Hauk was fundamentally opposed to the Adore Me acquisition."

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12 Comments on "Victoria’s Secret CEO stepping down after eight months on the job"


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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Sorry, something doesn’t add up. The story isn’t Adore Me but why a deeply troubled company lost a top CEO in under eight months.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

This is an unfortunate departure as it represents more churn for Victoria’s Secret as it continues down the path of reinvention. Moreover replacing a female CEO with a male isn’t necessarily the best move given the company’s history and its desired trajectory. That said, Victoria’s Secret is doing much of the ground work to shift perceptions of the brand so as long as that continues in a customer-centric fashion the company will remain on track. As for Adore Me, this is a great addition — but VS needs to keep the brand image separate from its main business even if it does integrate behind the scenes tech and other operational functions.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Hmm. Sounds like the company went in a different direction and wanted another leader to manage the transition. Still, there is more to the story that is not being said.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Ms. Hauk’s departure certainly doesn’t help ease the upheaval that has characterized Victoria’s Secret as of late. Letting go of a female CEO at this juncture feels fishy. When paired with the Adore Me acquisition, it seems Victoria’s Secret may be looking for quick fixes rather than long-term strategies.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

With her departure coming just as the ink was drying on the Adore Me deal, it sounds like Ms. Hauk was not a fan of the deal. It sounds like the deal made sense on all kinds of levels, so it’s not clear what’s not to like. Bottom line, when a board and a CEO can’t agree on the way forward, something has to give. And in this case it means the departure of the CEO. It’s odd and unfortunate. It looked like all the right moves were being made.

David Spear
BrainTrust

I agree with Bob, something just doesn’t seem right. How does a new CEO want to “spend more time with family” after only being in the role for eight months? The Q3 YTD 2022 numbers are certainly less than stellar, but the Adore Me acquisition seems like a nice fit for VS’s longer term strategy. It’s unfortunate to see this upheaval when this company/brand are in dire need of stability and strong leadership guidance.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Whenever I read that an executive is leaving to “spend more time with the family,” it raises more questions than it answers. After all, Ms. Hauk was already the CEO of the Pink brand before being put in charge of the VS brand last summer. Despite the apparent benefits of the Adore Me deal, the turmoil and churn at Victoria’s Secret don’t appear to be over yet.

Mark Self
BrainTrust

Planned? It does not sound planned at all. Eight months in and she decides to spend more time with her family? Red flag there! Some potential reasons:

1.) She realized after starting that the chain was beyond repair; 2.) The board realized they hired the wrong leader; 3.) She did not correctly estimate going in how consuming the position would be, does not need the money and decided the heck with it — or something else that I cannot think of.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I will go with #2.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

When RetailWire last visited Victoria’s Secret, we discussed a significant change in strategy. The Adore Me acquisition fits perfectly into the changes that Victoria’s Secret must embrace to become relevant again. This step could be akin to Google’s acquisition of a small company called Android.

Victoria’s Secret has much to learn from this small operator. Adore Me’s heartbeat seems to be on the present and the future. As we discussed previously, Victoria’s Secret must get out of the past and move to the future. Perhaps Ms. Hauk disagreed with what could be a drastic rethinking.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Victoria’s Secret is amidst a brand transformation and reinvention after a long string of controversies, public relations disasters, and disruption. While it’s commendable to see the increasingly inclusive culture, empowerment, and a far greater emphasis on the customer experience, the loss of their CEO after only eight months is a setback to their comeback story.

Strategies and directions change, and perhaps Amy Hauk was fundamentally opposed to the Adore Me acquisition. It will be interesting to see how the post-merger activities develop and how Adore Me is integrated into Victoria’s Secret value proposition. It will be critical for Victoria’s Secret to keep its transformation and reinvention going despite this leadership change.

Patrick Jacobs
BrainTrust

VS and PINK have been struggling through a bumpy road for a while, Hauk’s departure only puts more strain on the efforts to get on track. Reasonings for her resignation aside, the short tenure is not a good sign.

Leadership must integrate any or all of the great things going on at Adore Me, ASAP. But as things stand now, the acquisition may be an image bandaid over much bigger problems.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"It seems Victoria’s Secret may be looking for quick fixes rather than long-term strategies."
"Whenever I read that an executive is leaving to 'spend more time with the family,' it raises more questions than it answers."
"Strategies and directions change, and perhaps Amy Hauk was fundamentally opposed to the Adore Me acquisition."

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