Will Lands’ End have a better experience inside of Kohl’s than it did at Sears?

Discussion
Photo: Lands' End
Mar 18, 2020
George Anderson

Kohl’s and Lands’ End announced earlier this week that the two companies are joining together in a new business relationship. The deal means that a complete selection of Lands’ End’s merchandise will be sold on kohls.com and that Kohl’s will sell the outdoor clothing/products retailer’s goods in 150 stores, including an unspecified number of store-within-a-store concepts.

Lands’ End has done the store-within-a-store concept before. Last year, the retailer closed its last remaining 40 shops inside of Sears stores following a decision to close 174 the year before. The retailer was spun off by Sears Holdings in 2014.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kohl’s as we work to meet our customers wherever, however and whenever they want to shop, whether that’s online, at our retail stores or — as is often the case — at Kohl’s,” Jerome Griffith, Lands’ End CEO, said in a statement. “We know our customers consistently list Kohl’s as one of their primary shopping destinations, and we place great value in meeting them where they are already shopping.”

“Lands’ End is a brand that is synonymous with fit and quality, and brings well-crafted, timeless pieces in a wide range of sizes across women’s, men’s and kids’ categories to Kohl’s customers,” said Doug Howe, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer. “With their exceptionally strong seasonal businesses, we are especially thrilled to offer Lands’ End outerwear and swimwear for the entire family at Kohl’s and to bring a compelling brand experience to life in select Kohl’s stores.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the decision to sell Lands’ End merchandise online and in select Kohl’s stores work to the benefit of both companies? Does it make more sense for Kohl’s to operate Lands’ End stores within its stores or mixed in with its other merchandise?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This partnership offers Lands’ End better exposure in physical locations while the Lands’ End brand helps drive further business into Kohl’s stores – a win-win!"
"The biggest challenge for Lands’ End at any highly promotional retailer is realizing it is a full-price, everyday value brand."
"Kohl’s is more in line with the brand recognition for Land’s End AND they are known for clothing, whereas Sears isn’t. Simple as that."

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20 Comments on "Will Lands’ End have a better experience inside of Kohl’s than it did at Sears?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

After years of living in a dysfunctional relationship with Sears, Lands’ End has found a good home in Kohl’s. Lands’ End has a healthy brand, but it was being compromised by being associated with Sears. This is terrific for Kohl’s as well. They need quality brands and Lands’ End fits the bill. I’m not sure Lands’ End warrants store-within-a-store setups, but I’m sure Kohl’s will figure out how to make the most of this new relationship.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Lands’ End AND Kohl’s would both have to do a bunch of things wrong for this partnership to have a worse outcome than the Sears deal. We wish Lands’ End the best of success. Love the brand!

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Price point will be critical. Can I use my Kohl’s coupon and Kohl’s Cash for Lands’ End merchandise? If not, they are just going to make everything else at Kohl’s look better priced – good for Kohl’s, bad for Lands’ End.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I hope this works out for both Lands’ End and Kohl’s. I’m probably not a good judge because I left the Lands’ End fold many years ago, but somehow I have trouble thinking of Lands’ End as anything other than a catalog.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

…and I still like receiving it and leafing through it…

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This partnership holds strong potential for both parties. The easy, and wrong, execution would be to simply flow Lands’ End product into the existing classification floor sets. The better, and more difficult, execution will be to set up Lands’ End shops by gender. Just because Sears couldn’t make that work doesn’t mean Kohl’s won’t make it work. Take a lesson from Target, where they have both brand and classification shops in apparel. Get credit in the eyes of the customer.

Kathleen Fischer
BrainTrust

This sounds like a great partnership. Both brands have a strong and loyal customer following plus their customer bases are similar which benefits both brands. This partnership offers Lands’ End better exposure in physical locations while the Lands’ End brand helps drive further business into Kohl’s stores – a win-win!

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Yes, this is a much better home for Lands’ End to survive — and hopefully thrive. Kohl’s is more focused on everyday necessities and “living” than Sears’ “catch-all” and increasingly haphazard approach to merchandise offered and the overall experience. Kohl’s has the right demographics to bring appeal to the Lands’ End brand. Good luck to both in this newfound relationship (and two Wisconsin-based companies with Midwestern values certainly doesn’t hurt!).

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Well look, it can’t be a worse home than in a dismal Sears store with little traffic and a gloomy atmosphere! I always felt rather sorry for Lands’ End within Sears as the section usually looked neat and was very out of place.

That said, while Kohl’s is a better fit in terms of environment and customer demographic, the chain has a lot of work left to do in allowing brands like Lands’ End to shine. At present most Kohl’s stores are a densely packed jumble of merchandise which is hard and unpleasant to shop. If Lands’ End gets shoved into this mess, it won’t reach its potential.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

More exposure and better consumer traffic, Lands’ End inside Kohl’s is a win-win for both retailers. The merchandise should be displayed in a separate department, a store-within-a-store, that is maintained to Lands’ End standards.

Mixing Lands’ End product in with other Kohl’s merchandise won’t make it special. Have you seen a Kohl’s sales floor and fitting rooms on a busy day? It’s a merchandise presentation disaster.

Dave Nixon
BrainTrust

Land’s End will do much better with Kohl’s than with Sears. Kohl’s is more in line with the brand recognition for Land’s End AND they are known for clothing, whereas Sears isn’t. Simple as that.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

It makes more sense and is a better fit, but I hope they separate it as a micro-store or micro-department. It is too easy for it to get lost in the way the clothing department is laid out in a Kohl’s.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Even if this deal isn’t great for Lands’ End, it will be better than where they were. No matter online or in-store, Kohl’s will offer more traffic and better execution than Sears ever could. Today, as yesterday, retail is about traffic, online or otherwise. Kohl’s will offer that.

But please don’t mix the Lands’ End product in with general merchandise. It is a valuable brand and mixing it in just makes it like everything else. Make it a special department which will reflect more positively on both brands.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Kohls’s will be a good fit for Lands’ End. Sears was an odd choice since the chain was slowing down and apparel is not the first thing most people think about buying at Sears. Kohl’s will get a strong brand, and Sears will get desirable locations with a retailer that focuses on apparel. Time will tell, but Lands’ End is such a well known brand, a store-within-a-store concept should work best. Customers will provide data as to whether the brands should be mixed.

Steve Dennis
BrainTrust
So I can speak from quite a bit of experience here, as I was instrumental in the Lands’ End acquisition, including leading the integration team, when I was an executive at Sears. Today it’s not even worth debating whether Lands’ End is better at Kohl’s than it has been at Sears in recent years. What’s important is understanding the intended strategic role for Lands’ End at Sears, learning from the lessons of poor execution and what needs to happen going forward. At the time we did the deal, our strategic insight (which was valid) was that to reignite growth Sears needed to do many things including attracting new customers, driving incremental traffic, converting traffic better and building average transaction value. It was also critical for our softlines business to have a (mostly) exclusive brand similar all the success we had in hardlines with Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard, et al. Lands’ End needed expanded physical reach for an emerging multichannel (now called “omnichannel” or my preferred term, “harmonized”) world. Most of the points are still instructive for… Read more »
Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

This marriage sounds like a good one for both – but I agree with other comments – Kohl’s has to keep this as a separate “shop” in-store for the Lands’ End product to truly shine. What will be interesting to see is what in-house or national brands will have to be pulled back for Lands’ End products to replace. The Kohl’s customer’s wallet isn’t going to get any bigger.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Stephen asks a good question: How will Kohl’s overlapping discounts be applied to Lands’ End merchandise? Will it be subject to “no discounting,” along with a few other premium brands in the store?

The bigger question — especially in the 150 launch stores — is where to put the Lands’ End shop. It was easy in Sears (where the partnership was a failure) because those stores had apparel space to burn. Not so easy in a Kohl’s store, unless the shop goes into full size stores that have not yet been “right-sized.” But some assortment editing will probably be needed to make this work.

Despite these cautions, the deal looks like a win for both sides, especially on the e-commerce side of Kohl’s business.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

This makes much better sense. Lands’ End in Sears didn’t work because, well, Sears didn’t work. Also today the online channel is much better developed which should allow a Lands’ End shopper the ability to get colors and sizes not available in-store easily enough.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Since I used to venture into Sears to buy Lands’ End, it’s a sure bet that many more consumers will do so at Kohl’s!

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Firstly (though it isn’t the actual question), this is nothing like Sears: the Sears … uhm … experiment never made much sense. IIRC it was meant to signal an upgrade for Sears’s merchandise mix — so in that sense there was logic — but Sears went south so quickly afterward that the execution was a black hole.

Back to Kohl’s: the boutique concept “makes sense” if that’s what Lands’ End demanded (and I’m assuming it did). It’s not unusual for there to be a certain amount of promotion when a (major) new product line is introduced; whether such segregation makes sense in the future is something the two parties will have to work out.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This partnership offers Lands’ End better exposure in physical locations while the Lands’ End brand helps drive further business into Kohl’s stores – a win-win!"
"The biggest challenge for Lands’ End at any highly promotional retailer is realizing it is a full-price, everyday value brand."
"Kohl’s is more in line with the brand recognition for Land’s End AND they are known for clothing, whereas Sears isn’t. Simple as that."

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