Two days after Sears, Roebuck & Co. announced its plan to buy Lands’ End, most catalogers contacted think the deal is a sound one.
Ron Ramseyer, president of direct marketing for outdoor sporting goods cataloger/retailer Bass Pro Shops and a former 19-year employee of the defunct Sears catalog, calls the deal a “win-win situation. It’s a great opportunity for Sears to introduce a brand at a level that’s a little higher than Sears’s current apparel selection. It also gives Sears a big opportunity to use Lands’ End’s 30-million-household file to expand its reach.”
Ramseyer also dismisses the idea that an association with Sear could tarnish Lands’ End’s image. ” Lands’ End has a very well-known and well-understood brand, which isn’t on a higher plateau than those of Sears’s hard goods,” he says. “And customers in the stores buying lower-end apparel will recognize Lands’ End as higher end.”
Jennifer Lind, a spokesperson for outdoor apparel cataloger/retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), says that although the deal “could present some problems for both companies, it could also be a great benefit. They both do well in e-commerce, so the sum will be better than the parts. And while Sears has some challenges in apparel where Lands’ End is strong, I don’t think Lands’ End will in any way compromise on its customer service, as a result.”
Lands’ End rival L.L. Bean, which has slowly begun a retail expansion of its own in recent years, is monitoring the situation closely. “It’s safe to say that we are following this news with great interest,” says president/CEO Chris McCormick. “While I won’t speculate on what this means for the future of the Lands’ End brand and/or Sears, the sale delivers strong testimony to the accomplishments of [Lands’ End founder] Gary Comer. We admire his achievements in developing such a strong and well-respected apparel brand.”