L Brands gave its founder a virtual send-off May 14.

New Albany resident Leslie H. Wexner officially has retired as chief executive officer and chairman of the company he founded in 1963, telling those listening to the company's annual meeting that, "When I look in the mirror, I see a person who is very content and happy."

Like other public companies, L Brands moved its annual meeting online because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Wexner announced this past winter his plans to give up those jobs while remaining on the company's board.

Originally, the announcement was tied to the sale of a 55% stake of its struggling Victoria's Secret brand, a deal that subsequently was called off.

Andrew Meslow, CEO of Bath & Body Works, became L Brands CEO at the annual meeting. Board member Sarah Nash took over as chairwoman.

Wexner praised both at the meeting.

"I know the business will be in terrific hands," he said.

Wexner, at one point interrupted by a barking dog, didn't dwell long on his history with the company, focusing more of his comments on what L Brands has done in response to the pandemic.

Like other retailers, L Brands has closed stores across North America. It also suspended its dividend, slashed compensation for top executives and board members and laid off staff.

Wexner said furloughing 65,000 workers is "the most difficult decision I or we ever made." The goal is protect Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret as much as possible during the pandemic, he said.

Wexner turned a single Limited store into a global retail powerhouse that once included such brands as Abercrombie & Fitch, Lane Bryant and Express.

About a dozen of those brands have been sold or spun off into their own companies over the years, leaving L Brands with Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret.

L Brands announced a 55% sale of Victoria's Secret for $525 million to Sycamore Partners in February. That deal was called off this month, and L Brands said the focus now is on strengthening Victoria's Secret as a standalone company.

mawilliams@dispatch.com

@BizMarkWilliams