Lands’ End in Reorganization

Discussion
Feb 23, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Speculation that Lands’ End doesn’t fit with Sears and could be subject to a sale or spin off once the merger with Kmart is complete is likely to increase after the apparel retailer announced it was going through a company reorganization that involved 375 jobs being cut.


The company said it was folding its online unit into its regular business operation and that merchandisers and other positions previously dedicated to specific departments within Lands’ End would now work across target customer areas.


According to a report in The Chicago Sun-Times, Lands’ End catalog and online sales were down three to five percent last year. Although the brand’s sales have been slow in moving at Sears’ stores, the chain says there was a noticeable pickup in Lands’ End merchandise volume during the past holiday season.


Moderator’s Comment: What does the announced Lands’ End reorganization mean for it and its place within the merged Kmart and Sears business?

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11 Comments on "Lands’ End in Reorganization"


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Marjorie Arwady
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Marjorie Arwady
15 years 9 months ago

Lands’ End was a jewel before Sears bought and tarnished it. LE has always done a SUPERB job of providing excellent service and amenities (top quality, terrific selection, incomparable phone-line help, free hemming, precise ordering, simple returns) that differentiated them from all competition, including LL Bean. Sears has nearly destroyed LE in the short time it has owned it, degrading top-quality LE products with tacky, shoddy, bargain-basement display and lack of more suitably upscale showcasing in Sears stores.

LE — both catalog and online — is my first stop when seeking both office and casual attire — I’ve bought everything from a 100% cashmere blazer to business suits to jeans at Lands’ End!

Best thing that could happen for LE is renewed life as an independent company once again.

carl KROOP
Guest
carl KROOP
15 years 9 months ago

Sears bought a diamond and turned it into coal. They never merchandised Lands’ End the correct way. They put it next to Sears labeled product that sold for half the price. Customers could see the quality difference for the price. The best thing that could happen to Lands’ End would be for the originator to buy it back and bring it back to its old glory.

Brian Kelly
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

Lands’ End at Sears was doomed from the start because that look wasn’t needed in all Sears stores. Its relevance was limited to too a few stores. Hey, Covington didn’t work at better prices. Why would Lands’ End when it was basically the same stuff? All you Lands’ End lubbers, when did you last shop in a Sears store?

Plus, a couple of years before Sears bought LE, it wasn’t setting the world on fire anyway.
Hope they can find their niche again in the crowded, traditionally styled D2C apparel world.

At Sears, it is all about the dismantling of Sears to deliver the returns EL promised investors.
Pay close attention; it will be a short ride.

Albert Crandall
Guest
Albert Crandall
15 years 9 months ago

Sad, so sad. A previous commentator hit the nail when he said Sears is converting a well respected manufacturer and marketer into products conceived and marketed by Sears people. Sears should have taken the wiser people with Lands’ End and replaced the dolts they are turning it over to.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

It’s always been a bad fit, and they need cash now more than ever, so of course they are selling it. And they are denying it for now because they want to get the best price they can. I’d surely do the same. It’ll be tough for any new buyer; that “niche” has become a canyon, but at the same time the number of strong players has multiplied. It’ll be hard for Lands’ End to find traction in this environment. I expect a bargain price when the deal is ultimately announced.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

It’s too bad that Lands’ End has fallen into the hands of Sears. However, we have seen this same scenario play over and over again when large company buys out a smaller company. They come in and tell the people who made these smaller companies successful that the small company has been doing it all wrong and the big company can do it better. Without the full cooperation of the newly adopted stepchildren, you end up with failure. Often the loss of jobs is not so much for economic purposes but more as punishment for not worshiping the new leaders.

I doubt Lands’ End fits in with Kmart because there is not much real estate involved. Once all the real estate hype dies down, I think we will have another Winn-Dixie.

Martin Foley
Guest
Martin Foley
15 years 9 months ago
Maybe the bigger picture question should be: “Do the standalone Sears franchisee hardware and appliance stores fit in with Lampert’s extreme makeover of Kmart?” The Lands’ End article clearly states [EMPHASIS MINE], “Lands’ End apparel also has taken a beating IN Sears’ stores.” Lands’ End was doing OK when they were in their own standalone stores. If hundreds of Kmart’s Big K stores are turned into new Sears Essentials stores with hundreds of new outlets for appliances, hardward, etc., will the new Sears Holding Company need all these standalone franchisee specialty stores? I think not. I think this is just a preparatory restructuring of Lands’ End as, again quoting the article, “The company’s children’s, women’s and men’s apparel departments will no longer have their own sourcing, design, quality, inventory and merchandising people. Instead, people in those jobs will work for all of Lands’ End departments.” One day, down the road, those Lands’ End departments will become Sears Holding departments. And, don’t think for a second that the merging of Sears and Kmart is the endgame… Read more »
Lisa Everitt
Guest
Lisa Everitt
15 years 9 months ago

I’m not at all surprised to hear that the Internet division of Lands’ End is doing much better than the catalog division, because Lands’ End does online retailing superbly. Many of its online features are just not possible in either a paper catalog or in a Sears store, from the “virtual model” software app that tells you ahead of time that an item will not fit you properly, to the “overstocks” section that people religiously check twice a week to see what’s newly marked down.

I hadn’t bought Lands’ End clothing in years, but last year the online store lured me back in, and it is so user-friendly that I have made a number of purchases for self, husband and kids. Even when I’m prompted by the arrival of a catalog, I use the Internet site to buy. So, though we weep for those fabulously knowledgeable and friendly Wisconsin phone-answerers, fewer of them are needed than before.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 9 months ago
This could be a lesson in retailing execution and also, I think, in the consumer psyche. At least I think, from my point of view, that’s how Lands’ End has been for me. They were once my favorite and are still good in the catalog and on-line. Really, from a catalog and on-line perspective, you would never know the difference – at least from my experience. I think, for me, it’s simply been a perception battle that, if it were Sears, it simply couldn’t be as good. All in all, it’s not true at least from those two venues. From the ‘brick and mortar’ side, I think it’s very true that there has been a complete failure. Sears failed from day one to successfully introduce Lands’ End product to their stores in a timely fashion and to merchandise it as effectively as it could have been. Thus, this perpetuated the perception that, if they didn’t know how it fit, neither did the consumer. The biggest failure to that extent was how long it took to… Read more »
Tom Zatina
Guest
Tom Zatina
15 years 9 months ago

Sears took the Lands’ End brand to the brink of death. A new buyer may be able to bring it back, but Lands’ End has seemingly lost a lot of ground in the online marketplace (where it made its name) over the past few years while Sears fiddled with it.

Piper Haynes
Guest
Piper Haynes
15 years 8 months ago

Everyone thinks of the negative side. There are positives and, if you worked in the Sears environment, you would understand it. Sears has not changed the return policy on Lands’ End… It still remains, “If you are ever dissatisfied … we will replace it… No questions asked…period.” Where have you ever seen clothing guaranteed like this? We are also accepting Landsend.com and Lands’ End phone orders for return. The customer just brings in their items and we send them back. Therefore, the customer has to pay nothing for s&h. The best thing about purchasing Lands’ End in the store is that we have the same policy. In my opinion, only good things can happen when we take care of each and every one of our customers.

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