L Brands (or Limited Brands as it was known pre-2013) are a conglomerate of retailers based out of Columbus and created by Leslie Wexner. Wexner was born in Dayton, Ohio and his parent's owned a small clothing store in downtown Columbus called Leslie's. After Wexner graduated from The Ohio State University, he took over the family business.
L Brands got its start in 1963 with the opening of The Limited colthing store. The name came from an idea to limit the assortment of merchandise sold to women's separates -- skirts, sweaters, shirts, and blouses -- rather than the complete line of women's clothing that included dresses and coats. Wexner learned from working in his parent's store, Leslie's, that separates brought in the most profit. This concept of specialization was also popular at the time in areas of medicine and law, and Wexner thought it could be a way in which he could differentiate himself from and compete against department stores, which were the dominant retailers at the time.
Wexner's first year sales were $160,000 -- more than his parents' store ever made in one year. Wexner opened his second store the following August. Two stores became four, then six. At six stores, he decided to take the company public and did so in 1969 with an instrastate offering, meaning only people in Ohio could invest.
The Limited, Inc. grew throughout the 1980's by both creating divisions and acquiring businesses. It ruled the suburban shopping malls through the many divisions it had either created itself or acquired. The stores were everywhere, but the company was criticized in the 1990's for losing both direction and profits. Wexner himself admitted that things were becoming difficult to control. More than a decade of changes resulted in a name change in 2002 to Limited Brands, Inc. along with a narrowing focus to build a "family of the world's best fashion retail brands." They kept this name until 2013 after the sale of The Limited clothing line, whereby they changed the name to the current L Brands.
Under Les Wexner's leadership, Limited Brands evolved from an apparel-based specialty retailer to an approximately $12 billion segment leader with more than 80,000 associates focused on lingerie, beauty, and personal care product categories that, according to their marketing, make customers feel sexy, sophisticated, and forever young. Wexner also remains committed to investing in the city of Columbus. In 2010, the Wexner family and the L Brands Foundation donated a record-setting $100 million to The Ohio State University to benefit the James Cancer Center, the Wexner Medical Center, the Fisher College of Business, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and may other important school programs.
While L Brands may no longer own The Limited, Express, Lane Bryant, Abercrombie & Fitch, or Justice, their founding and development had significant impact on the fashion retail industry and remain a visible presence in Columbus today. Currently, L Brands owns Victoria's Secret, PINK, and Bath & Body Works. L Brands, through Victoria's Secret, PINK and Bath & Body Works, is an international company that recorded sales of $12.6 billion in 2017. The company operates more than 3,000 company-owned specialty stores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Greater China, and its brands are sold in more than 800 franchised locations worldwide. Though L Brands is making more global strides, it does not forget where it came from. The L Brand Headquarters is still located in Columbus, Ohio and L Brands have donated over $150 million throughout the Columbus community since the company's start in 1963.