Grand Closing: After 123 Years, Luxury Retailer Henri Bendel Is Going Out of Business

A general view of atmosphere at the Henri Bendel Holiday Window Unveiling at Henri Bendel on November 15, 2017 in New York City.
A general view of atmosphere at the Henri Bendel Holiday Window Unveiling at Henri Bendel on November 15, 2017 in New York City.
Photo: Craig Barritt (Getty Images for Henri Bendel)

A New York City retail landmark will be closing its doors, come January 2019; according to CNN Money, the legendary Henri Bendel will be closing its flagship location on the city’s Fifth Avenue, as well as its website and other 23 stores nationwide.

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Henri Bendel founded his eponymous upscale brand in 1895, opening the flagship store in 1913. Current parent company L Brands acquired Bendel in 1985, expanding the brand to 11 states.

In a press release issued Thursday, L Brands, which also owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, among other retailers, indicated sluggish sales as the reason for the closing of the iconic store.

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“We are committed to improving performance in the business and increasing shareholder value,” said Leslie Wexner, chairman and CEO of L Brands. “As part of that effort, we have decided to stop operating Bendel to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential.”

Full disclosure: In the early aughts, I was the go-to DJ for the retailer for a multiple in-store events, including the label relaunch of legendary designer Stephen Burrows, whom Bendel’s initially helped propel to stardom decades before. But despite their reputation as a bastion for emerging high-end designers, the retailer has not been immune to accusations of racial profiling by its staff.

But it is nevertheless the end of an era, as acknowledged by Wexner:

“This decision is right for the future growth of our company, but not easy because of the impact to our L Brands family. I want to thank our Bendel associates for their dedication to this iconic brand and to our loyal Bendel customers.”

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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DISCUSSION

This is too bad. I actually have a long connection with that store, career-wise, and over the years got to know pretty much everyone connected with it, from the stock room folks to management. Pretty much everybody I ever met there was good people, and for a retail establishment, it seemed like a great work environment. The thing that did them in, was when they stopped selling third party brands to focus on the HB label, without doing the proper marketing to promote it.  That was when my association with them ended. The Limited never knew what to do with them, and just let them wither and die.  They tried tons of things over the years, but never figured it out. 

Also, I over the years, I met quite a few cool celebrities there. Including Beyonce. Yes.