CREATIVE: Lands’ End plots an evolution

Nov 01, 1999 10:30 PM  By

Core book’s redesign is a month-to-month process. Coming off a sluggish year in which earnings fell 51%, from $64.2 million to $31.2 million, Lands’ End is climbing back. For the quarter ended July 30, it posted net income of $4.5 million – its largest second-quarter profit in more than a decade, and a vast improvement over the previous year’s $61,000 loss.

But the $1.37 billion mailer attributed its 7.2% increase in second-quarter net sales, to $544.2 million, primarily to gains in its corporate sales, children’s apparel, and linens catalogs, as well as its international unit. Sales from its core apparel catalog were flat, as they have been for the past couple of years.

So to jump-start the main catalog, Dodgeville, WI-based Lands’ End has taken a new tack. The company’s catalog has become “a permanent work in progress,” according to Lee Eisenberg, the former Esquire magazine editor-in-chief who was hired last March as executive vice president/creative director.”This isn’t a grand redesign, but a significant month-to-month evolution,” Eisenberg says. Beginning this past summer, Lands’ End scaled back its SKU count 23% and its overall page count 20%, then opened up more space on its pages by placing fewer items per page. The catalogs were “too crowded with too many products competing for too little space,” he says.

In mid-September, Lands’ End redesigned its Website as well. “Cosmetically, the site is cleaner, with tabs across the top so that you can go into different departments immediately without having to go back to the home page,” Eisenberg says.

The most notable new elements are “Lands’ End Live,” which allows customers to communicate with customer service reps in real-time, and “Shop with a Friend,” which enables two customers to shop together from their respective computers.

Eisenberg won’t discuss results, other than to say that since implementing the changes, Lands’ End has done “very well.” But David Ricci, research analyst at Chicago investment banking firm William Blair & Co., says he’s “extremely bullish on the potential here.”

Looking forward, Ricci adds that Lands’ End won’t reap the full operational savings and revenue boost of its improved Website and catalog creative for a good year. “But so far, I like what I see.”