Brands in the News

Lands’ End and Sears

6 Dec , 2013  

Sears today announced that it had filed paperwork with the SEC to spin-off Lands’ End. This is very good news for the Lands’ End brand.

Lands’ End is a retailer based on Janesville, Wisconsin. Chicagoan Gary Comer started the company in 1963. It began selling equipment for boaters.Lands' End

By 2000, Lands’ End was a thriving company. Customers loved the brand and the business did well; Lands’ End had a distinct voice in the crowded world of retail. It was a bit like L.L. Bean with less of the rugged Maine feel. Lands’ End was comfortably sporty and nautical with great quality and service. I was a loyal customer.

In 2002, however, Sears purchased Lands’ End for $1.8 billion. The concept was that Lands’ End would help revitalize Sears and make the brand more upscale. Sears quickly opened up Lands’ End departments in Sears stores.

The combination of Sears and Lands’ End was a disaster. When a small brand joins with a huge brand, the larger partner will carry more weight. So instead of pulling Sears up, the combination just pulled Lands’ End down.

I visited a few of the Lands’ End stores in Sears locations. It was a painful experience. First, I had to wander through Sears, which was difficult enough. Then I found that the Lands’ End department was in disarray with little service and selection. It was totally counter to my image of the Lands’ End brand.

So I, and many people, moved on to other brands.

Things may change once Lands’ End becomes independent. The new brand (hopefully) won’t have to sell at Sears locations. It can attract employees committed to building a special, unique brand. It can reward employees with stock options that actually might be worth something.

Short term, Lands’ End may do poorly on its own. Sales will fall as the brand retrenches, invests in service and branding, and cuts retail locations. Many customers will leave, especially those looking for low prices.

Long term, Lands’ End may emerge as a thriving merchant, a special brand in the crowded world of retail.

I’m looking forward to the transition and becoming a Lands’ End customer again.


Leave a Reply

Archives

Conversation Across the Site

  • David Rose { This sounds very very difficult. You put alot of energy into it and obviosly care. I would suggest you focus on the room and let... }
  • M E Lesniak { I think you picked the wrong hill to stand on. You work at one of the most expensive degree factories in the country and I’m... }
  • Stephen Calkins { Forgiveness based on income? What if it is a wealthy family that figured borrowing cheaply was a good deal, but there is massive wealth? What... }
  • Todd Holscher { Transparency in pricing is a very good idea. Students will still susceptible to the influence of marketing and advertising by colleges, but it’s the right... }
  • Emita Hill { Vast sums of money. Alternatively provide more support to state schools so they can lower tuition and maybe to privates strictly for scholarships. }
  • David Rose { Tim, I dont think your views are balanced. You obviously are being paid by these loans. The money has been given to your university and... }
  • Read more Comments »

Collaborate with Tim

Tim helps companies around the world build great brands. To schedule a program or event click here. To learn more about Tim’s books, click here.