With different customers and different plans going forward, Sears and Lands’ End are parting ways. The companies had maintained a symbiotic relationship with stores-within-stores at 40 locations, down from 174 last year, but will now separate all remaining Lands’ End stores from their parent Sears locations. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Lands’ End is back at Oakbrook Center mall — this time, outside the shadow of Sears.
The Dodgeville, Wis.-based casual clothing retailer had a shop inside the Sears, its former parent company, on the mall’s northwest side before the Sears temporarily shut down for remodeling and downsizing in 2017. Now, Lands’ End has its own space, which opened less than two weeks before Sears is scheduled to close for good.
It’s a switch that’s playing out across the country as Lands’ End works to close the brand’s last 40 stores inside Sears, already down from 174 at the start of last year. That would cut what CEO Jerome Griffith said is one of its only remaining links between the retailers.
“We’re looking to exit as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’re not in their (Sears’) long-term plans, and they’re not in ours.”
Sears bought Lands’ End for $1.9 billion in 2002 but cut the brand loose in a 2014 deal that brought Sears a $500 million cash dividend and rent from the shops in Sears’ stores. Former Sears CEO Edward Lampert, who bought the retailer out of bankruptcy earlier this year, remains a majority shareholder in Lands’ End through his hedge fund, according to Lands’ End’s most recent annual report.
The alliance with Sears gave Lands’ End — which had relied primarily on catalog and online sales — a bigger presence in bricks-and-mortar stores. But there was little overlap between the two retailers’ customers, according to Griffith.
“They would go to Sears just because there was a Lands’ End inside,” he said.
Nancy Thoresen, 62, of Elmhurst, said she shopped at Oakbrook Center’s Sears “all the time” before it closed for remodeling, but Lands’ End had been a bigger draw than Sears.
She stopped at the new Lands’ End, filled with swimwear and summer attire, to pick up some tank tops after finishing a shift at a different store at the mall on Thursday. It was her second visit in the week since Lands’ End opened.
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