BUSINESS

Frederick's of Hollywood closes all stores, strips down to Web

Frederick's of Hollywood has closed all its stores and will sell only from its website

Frederick's of Hollywood Group Inc., a Los Angeles lingerie brand that struggled to compete with rival Victoria's Secret, has closed all of its stores and will do business only online.

"We no longer have store locations," the retailer said on its website, but added that its online store offered the same selection of merchandise.

In 2014, Frederick's operated 94 stores and a catalog business, in addition to its website.

Ron Friedman, a retail expert at consulting and accounting firm Marcum, said he wasn’t surprised by the store closures.

“As a company, I think they became old and stale,” he said. “Victoria’s Secret has been a home run compared to them.”

But Frederick’s can be profitable online, he added, if it comes up with an effective marketing strategy using social media to get the word out and attract customers.

“An online business is nothing more than another retail store without fixed rent,” he said. “They have to really focus and hire people that really understand the online business.”

Born out of the World War II pinup craze, the company was the brainchild of Frederick Mellinger. He initially opened a lingerie business in New York before moving the shop, renamed Frederick's of Hollywood, to Los Angeles in 1947.

The company launched into mail order catalogs before opening stores in malls in the 1960s. The retailer added sex toys and racy underwear to its inventory for a time.

Despite Mellinger's famous quote that "sex never goes out of fashion," the company fell behind competitors. Frederick's declared bankruptcy in 2000, then emerged from bankruptcy in 2003 and went public in 2006. 

In 2013 Frederick's was bought out by a consortium that includes HGI Funding, a subsidiary of the New York-based Harbinger Group Inc., and some of its own shareholders.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

10:21 a.m.: This story has been updated with comment from industry expert Ron Friedman.

This story was originally published at 7:54 a.m.

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