Victoria’s Secret head of stores is stepping down

Retailers closing stores in 2019
Rich Brooks/CNN
L Brands announced Feb. 28 that it would close 53 Victoria's Secret stores after weak holiday sales.

One of Victoria’s Secret’s key executives is stepping down as the retailer deals with a battering year.

April Holt, who is the executive vice president of stores, is leaving the L Brands-owned company after more than 16 years. Becky Kritek-Behringer, a 17-year veteran who is currently Victoria’s Secret’s SVP of store operations, will assume the position until a permanent replacement is found.

An L Brands spokesperson said Holt was leaving for personal reasons. CNBC first reported the news of Holt’s depature.

The high-profile departure comes at a troubling time for Victoria’s Secret. The company has struggled in the modern era as customers have shunned the company’s racy advertising and switched allegiance to companies that make custom-fitted bras, such as ThirdLove, or rivals like American Eagle.

Citigroup analyst Paul Lejuez said in July that management is “slow to implement meaningful change” with “cultural norms shifting away” from the company.

Activist hedge fund investor James Mitarotonda has urged L Brands to offload Victoria’s Secret.

In an open letter written in March, he said L Brands needs to “take swift action to improve the performance of Victoria’s Secret, by, among other things, correcting past merchandising mistakes and ensuring that Victoria’s Secret is communicating a compelling, up-to-date brand image that resonates with today’s consumers.”

Victoria’s Secret announced earlier this year it was shutting down 50 stores. L Brands’ stock is down 34% for the year.