Live From eTail 2003: Lands’ End and Sears—So Far, So Good

Palm Springs, CA—When a cataloger is acquired, layoffs typically follow. So how many employees did Lands’ End lay off following its June acquisition by Sears, Roebuck & Co.? According to Don Hughes, senior vice president, chief financial officer of Dodgeville, WI-based Lands’ End, seven—all in the investor relations department. In fact, the cataloger has since added 50 positions, Hughes said during his Feb. 19 session at eTail 2003.

The Lands’ End acquisition “is not about back office synergy,” Hughes stressed. “This is about the growth opportunity of flowing the Lands’ End brand into Sears.” Sears started introducing Lands’ End merchandise in some of its stores this past fall. The products should also be available on by year’s end.

To promote the Lands’ End brand, the company uses in-store signage, similar in appearance and tone to the $1.6 billion Lands’ End’s catalog. “We tend to go into more detail about our products, [such as] how many stitches are used,” Hughes said. Promotional signage isn’t limited to the Lands’ End sections of the stores. One might see in the Craftsman tools section signs showing a pair of Lands’ End carpenter pants, labeled “Toolkits”: Next to appliances, a sign featuring a parka labeled “Dryer.”

Lands’ End, which has revved up its specialty size women’s apparel business during the past few years, has also started mailing to buyers from Sears’s specialty size clothing catalogs. In fact, Hughes used access to Sears’s database, which he said includes “virtually every U.S. household” as a huge opportunity, although he noted that “it won’t be easy to synthesize that file.”