Leslie H. Wexner
Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Limited Brands Corporation
Leslie Wexner likes to move fast. Four years after graduating from the Ohio State University he founded The Limited. In its first year, the Columbus Ohio store recorded sales of $160,000. Today, Wexner has built The Limited, headquartered in Columbus, into the largest retailer of women's apparel in the world with 4,200 stores, 75,000 employees, and 1991 sales in excess of $6.1 billion. He has redefined the specialty store by offering customers a distinctive mix of fashion and value in an exciting shopping environment.
Much of the growth of The Limited, Inc. has come through aggressive internal expansion and through the development of successful experiments into stand-alone stores and divisions such as Limited Stores, Express, Structure, Limited Too, Cacique, Victoria's Secret Bath Shops, and Bath & Body Works. The company also reaches its customers through the Victoria's Secret, Lane Bryant Direct, Roaman's, and Lerner Direct fashion catalogs.
The company has also grown through acquiring and turning around unprofitable businesses such as Lerner New York, Lane Bryant, Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Henri Bendel, and Penhaligon's. Under Wexner's direction these businesses were reformatted, remerchandised and redesigned.
As chairman, Wexner is a hands-on manager and works with division presidents on merchandising, marketing and store design. He also believes in motivating company employees, more then 80% of whom own shares of the company's stock. Strongly committed to a philosophy of "the best people for the job," Wexner has an extraordinary record of promoting women in high ranks in his organization. According to one writer, "Even in retailing, where women have more opportunities than in many other industries, The Limited stands out." Henri Bendel, Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria's Secret Catalog, and Lane Bryant are all headed by women.
In addition to his responsibilities with The Limited, Wexner presently serves as director and member of the executive committee of Banc One Corporation, Sotheby's Holdings, Inc., the Smithsonian Institution, and he supports a variety of national and local civic, educational and cultural philanthropic organizations. His gift last year of $250 million to set up the Ohio Higher Education Trust is among the largest ever made to a foundation or for education.