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The Limited CEO Bails, Bankruptcy Likely Next

It’s not such a happy holiday for The Limited Stores.

Bankruptcy rumors have surrounded the womenswear retailer in recent weeks and now its interim CEO has called it quits.

John Buell, who has been with The Limited for 13 years—most recently working as chief financial officer—left the company and joined women’s fashion brand Altar’d State, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

His departure comes right after news that the retailer could be exploring a sale of its business and letting staff go.

Reports started circulating in November about a potential sale of the Columbus-based company, and an early December filing with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said The Limited would lay off up to all 248 staff members at its headquarters.

Buell’s stint as interim CEO was a short-lived two months after he stepped in to take the place of Diane Ellis, who went to Chico’s instead.

An EVP at Dublin retail consulting company WD Partners told the Dispatch that Ellis’ rapid departure followed by Buell’s is evidence that “the party’s over.”

Layoffs are already underway at the retailer, and though the company has said the move to cut back on staff would allow it to focus on operating its stores, those stores may not be around much longer anyway.

Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that The Limited is planning to file for bankruptcy within weeks and liquidation is likely forthcoming.

The company has reportedly taken on Kirkland & Ellis as a legal adviser and Guggenheim Securities and RAS Management Advisors to help with debt restructuring and asset sales.