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Feb 24, 2021
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After closing nearly 250 stores in 2020, Victoria’s Secret plans to permanently close between 30 to 50 more U.S. locations this year, its parent company L Brands announced Wednesday.

L Brands also plans to open 49 new Bath & Body Works stores in the U.S. and one in Canada, according to information the company posted online as part of its quarterly earnings. The new stores are "almost entirely off-mall" locations, the company said, adding it plans to close up to 40 stores that are in malls.

The Columbus, Ohio-based retailer says it is still planning to move ahead with plans to spin off its struggling Victoria's Secret brand into a separate company over the next six months. The New York Times reported this week that Goldman Sachs will begin formally pitching buyout firms about a potential takeover as soon as this week.

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Sales of soap and hand sanitizer at Bath & Body Works helped L Brands post a record fourth quarter, the company said.

The Columbus, Ohio-based retailer on Wednesday posted a profit of $860.3 million, or $3.03 per share, for the three months that ended Jan. 31, compared with a loss in the same quarter a year ago when L Brands wrote down the value of its Victoria's Secret operation. Sales rose 2% from a year ago to $4.8 billion.

As has been the case since the coronavirus pandemic began, the company's sales have been driven by consumers stocking up on soap products along with home fragrance and body care products at Bath & Body Works while sales at Victoria's Secret have foundered.

Last May, when stores were closed amid the pandemic, L Brands announced plans to permanently shutter up to 250 Victoria's Secret and up to 50 Bath & Body Works stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Bath & Body Works ended up closing 30 U.S. stores in 2020 and opened 26 new stores outside of malls, a new top-tier mall location and remodeled 29. The company had been working on about 200 real estate projects a year but says it pulled back during the pandemic.

"We continue to closely evaluate all locations, especially more vulnerable centers, for risk of closure," the company said in a statement about Bath & Body Works.

Macy's, Bed Bath & Beyond and J.C. Penney have announced 2021 store closings. Apparel retailer Christopher & Banks announced it would close all of its stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Contributing: Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
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