Sad reminder of the truth about money

Does lingerie chain Victoria's Secret hold the secret to financial happiness?

Lingerie retailers tend to get a lot more attention in the business sections than is justified by the financial significance of the companies themselves. There's no mystery to this: they offer a good opportunity to liven up an otherwise dull-looking page of dry figures with a picture of pretty girls in their underwear (see above).

Of course, unlike its upmarket boutique' rivals, Victoria's Secret is a genuine behemoth of a company with a value in the billions of dollars. So with the company set to open its first London store later this year, you can expect to see a great many more of its products being modelled in the Sunday business supplements over the next few months.

Yet there's a rather sad story behind the company's success. The firm was set up in 1977 by US businessman Roy Raymond. The story goes that Raymond had felt embarrassed trying to buy lingerie for his wife in a department store, and so had the idea for a shop with a more relaxed environment.

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He spent $80,000 on opening his first branch in San Francisco. It was a success, earning $500,000 in its first year. In 1982, having added some extra stores plus a mail order business, Raymond sold the firm then on sales of around $6m a year to entrepreneur Leslie Wexner for $4m.

Not a bad result, you might think. However, Raymond's next venture a retail chain for children was not so successful. Started in 1984, it went bust in 1986.

Meanwhile, Victoria's Secret was going from strength to strength. By the early 1990s, it had become the largest lingerie brand in the US, with sales of more than $1bn a year. Then, in 1993, Raymond took his own life, jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

We can't know for sure if the two things are connected Raymond didn't leave a note. However, it's hard not to conclude that they were. It's well known to behavioural economists that as individuals we feel the pain of a financial loss or that of a foregone gain far more greatly than we appreciate an increase in our wealth.

Certainly, in The Social Network, the Oscar-winning film about Facebook, the story is used as a cautionary tale from Silicon Valley celebrity Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg).

Zuckerberg takes it as a warning not to sell out of his business too early, something he has clearly avoided. But Facebook could easily have failed and fallen flat on its face like a million other small businesses. The truth is there's no real lesson to be drawn from the story of Roy Raymond, except perhaps that it's another sad reminder that even achieving what would by many people's standards be great financial success, is no guarantee of finding peace or happiness.

Tabloid money the wilful wrecking of our pension system

Something has to be done about youth unemployment, says the Sunday Mirror. It "is no coincidence that the slashing of state help has been followed by a huge increase in the number of young people on the dole and the growth of a Jobless Generation".

There are now one million young people looking for work. Contrary to "the cynical attitude of some Tories", this generation is "desperate to secure a future for themselves and their country". It's time for Cameron and the coalition to act. Indeed, they would do well to look at David Miliband's youth unemployment plan. "Consigning so many of this generation to the scrapheap is scandalous."

Free Britain's energy slaves, says the Daily Mirror. Thousands of households are stuck in fuel poverty because they are trapped in expensive energy deals by "profiteering power firms". The government's only help is to tell people to switch suppliers.

But "that is not always as easy as it sounds Anyone who is £200 or more in arrears is banned from moving to a company offering a cheaper rate". Of course people should try to pay their bills on time, but it's "unacceptable that energy firms should be able to exploit those already struggling to make ends meet". It's time that energy regulator Ofgem remembered that "it is there to serve the consumers, not big business".

Many of our older citizens are in an appalling situation, says Peter Hill in the Daily Express. And that's partly down to the "wilful wrecking of what used to be the finest private pension system in the world". It began when the "mad, mad Gordon Brown" raised a £5bn-a-year levy on pension schemes.

It's about to get even worse with George Osborne "planning even deeper tax raids". Couple that with the scandalous annuity rip-off and you have a disaster in the making. "Surely it is better to have as many financially independent pensioners as possible rather than throwing more on the state."