Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's Time for Sears to Sell Lands' End

Sears has been on a slow slide to extinction for some years, even decades.  Now we hear that Sears is considering the sale of its Lands' End business unit.  Well, it's about time.   Whenever we look at a corporate strategy, we have to ask the following question about each business unit:  Is it truly better off as part of this corporation, as opposed to being on its own or part of some other organizational arrangement?   In this case, you have to ask:  Does Lands' End benefit from being part of Sears?  Is it perhaps disadvantaged because it is part of a struggling retailer?  This article in Business Week makes a good case for why Sears should divest Lands' End.  Several good arguments can be made.  First, Lands' End could benefit from being a smaller, focused company with all attention focused on growing its online business (it already has a strong catalog business and a decent presence online).   Second, it would not be battling for capital within a larger corporation that has liquidity issues and clear capital constraints.   Third, the company may be able to attract more talent as a focused entity, as opposed to being part of a struggling giant such as Sears.  Does a young talented fashion merchandiser want to work for Sears?  Might they work for a Lands' End brand that is owned by a private equity firm instead?    Finally, Lands' End may actually be harmed because, as the article suggests, "Being close to Diehard batteries or Kenmore dryers doesn’t do much for an apparel line looking to burnish its fashion cred."  

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