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Victoria’s Secret Taps Express, Abercrombie Lawyer as Legal Boss

May 5, 2021, 9:00 PM

Victoria’s Secret has hired former Express Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch lawyer Melinda McAfee as its first chief legal officer.

McAfee joined the Columbus, Ohio-based clothing and lingerie company in April, she said on her LinkedIn profile. Parent company L Brands confirmed the move via a spokesperson.

McAfee joins Victoria’s Secret after two years with Express as senior vice president and general counsel.

It’s been a turbulent few years for Victoria’s Secret and L Brands, which also owns soap and fragrance brand Bath & Body Works. Victoria’s Secret has faced declining sales as consumer habits change, and L Brands Chairman Leslie Wexner has been scrutinized for his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

Before her time with Express, McAfee spent nearly 13 years with Abercrombie & Fitch, most recently as group vice president, deputy general counsel, and chief privacy officer. She started her career in private practice with Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, where she worked for a decade, according to her LinkedIn.

McAfee declined comment on her new job through the L Brands spokesperson.

Though L Brands reported higher than estimated sales last year driven by rising demand for the cleaning and sanitizing products sold by Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret’s annual sales fell from $7.5 billion in 2019 to $5.4 billion in 2020, according to L Brands’ fourth quarter earnings report.

In the company’s annual report, L Brands and Bath & Body Works CEO Andrew Meslow said over 240 Victoria Secret’s stores in North America were closed last year, leaving around 900 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters, who started in the role last November, said in a Feb. 24 earnings call that another 30 to 50 locations could close in 2021.

L Brands has also restarted efforts to sell or spin off Victoria’s Secret by August for between $2 and $3 billion, more than double the value of its most recent failed deal with private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

In March, L Brands announced that Wexner would step down from the company’s board of directors this year. Wexner claims he and Epstein cut ties over a decade ago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com
Rebekah Mintzer in New York at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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