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Playboy’s owner is buying a raunchy lingerie brand for $333 million, just as industry giant Victoria’s Secret ditches its Angels and tones down racy marketing

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  • Playboy’s owner PLBY is buying the Australian brand Honey Birdette, known for selling lingerie and sex toys.
  • PLBY said it plans to expand the brand in the US to grow its clothing and “sexual wellness” business.
  • The news comes as lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret upends its brand image and steps back from racy ads.

The owner of Playboy is spending $333 million on the racy Australian lingerie brand Honey Birdette.

PLBY Group, the company behind the late Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire, said Tuesday that the acquisition would help it grow its Playboy-branded clothing business and its “sexual wellness” business, which covers Playboy sex toys and lingerie.

PLBY CEO Ben Kohn said in a statement Tuesday that the company would “take advantage of Honey Birdette’s superior product design, sourcing and direct-to-consumer capabilities” to grow its business. 

Honey Birdette was founded 15 years ago and has about 60 stores, mostly in the US and UK, according to The Journal. It is set to open new flagship stores in Dallas, Miami, and New York over the next few months. 

The brand, which PLBY said was expected to pull in $73 million in revenue between June 2020 and June 2021, is known for its provocative lingerie and marketing. 

Some customers in Australia had called for the brand’s ad displays in stores to be taken down, saying that they were borderline pornographic, per a Daily Mail report from early June.

The plans for Honey Birdette’s expansion come as Victoria’s Secret is toning down its racy marketing. The lingerie giant said earlier this month that it was ditching its Angels, and instead partnering with a group of inspirational women including activists and entrepreneurs to promote a new brand image and shape its turnaround.