New Jewel in Sears’s Catalog Crown

Just three months after acquiring catalog powerhouse Lands’ End, Sears, Roebuck, and Co. spun off a catalog of its own. In September the department store giant mailed the 40-page Sears Catalog: Fine Jewelry.

The new catalog capitalizes on the increasing popularity of jewelry and watches in Sears stores, says Ann Woolman, a spokesperson for the Hoffman Estates, IL-based company. Sears’s annual sales in the fine jewelry and watches category have grown by mostly double digits during the past four years. The catalog, also distributed at Sears retail jewelry counters, mailed to “millions” of Sears customers as well as to some prospects, Woolman says. Different cover versions of the book dropped in October and November as well.

The jewelry spin-off is Sears’s third proprietary catalog, the others being the annual Wishbook gifts catalog and the Craftsman Power and Hand Tools book. Sears also has nine other licensed catalogs that are produced by outside companies such as Brylane.

Most of the merchandise in the 8″ × 10-1/2″ jewelry book is available in Sears stores. “Integration between our retail, Web, and catalog channels is an important way to create synergy,” Woolman says. The company’s research shows that customers who shop Sears in all three channels spend three times more on average with the company and visit the stores about three times more often than those who shop only at the stores.

The 1,000 items for sale in the catalog range from $19.99 to $2,000, with most at the higher end of the scale. “Sears is an industry leader in fine diamonds, and it’s a strong category for us,” Woolman says.

As for next year, Sears hasn’t decided how many more jewelry catalogs it will mail, Woolman says, “but I expect it will be more than three books.”

And the jewelry catalog launch has nothing to do with the Lands’ End acquisition, Woolman adds: “Sears has been in the specialty catalog business since the 1990s. We’re looking at how to leverage all three marketing channels.”

But industry observers note that owning Lands’ End makes it easier for Sears to create additional catalogs. Investment analyst Derek Leckow of Chicago investment banking firm Barrington Research Associates, who followed Lands’ End until it was sold to Sears this past June, says that Sears has picked up some very experienced management with the Lands’ End acquisition. “And I’m sure it will work in Sears’s favor as it rolls out other catalogs,” he says.

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