APPAREL: market leaders – LANDS’ END

It’s been a bumpy road in recent years for this $1.37 billion cataloger of conservative casualwear. Having enjoyed rapid sales gains between 1992 ($697 million) and 1995 ($1.1 billion), things have since leveled off.

In late 1994, president Bill End left, replaced by Mike Smith, who kept things on a fairly even keel until he was let go in 1998. He was replaced by David Dyer, who had previously left Lands’ End to join Texas Pacific, the financial firm that owns competitor J. Crew.

In the months since Dyer took over, Lands’ End has pumped a lot of money into its state-of-the-art Website, hiring former Esquire editor Lee Eisenberg to beef up content. It now allows customers to create their own “virtual models” and chat live with customer service reps.

Yet despite its efforts, Lands’ End’s sales plunged 14.6% over the ’99 holiday season. Fortunately, profits rose, due to cost-cutting and a reduction in unprofitable mailings. The company says that its 1999 online holiday sales were more than twice those of ’98 but that the cut in catalog pages hurt overall sales.

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