Martha Stewart Omnimedia Sells Out, Will Be Corporate Sibling To Franklin Mint

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

While Martha Stewart’s lifestyle and publishing empire isn’t as popular as it once was, its founder’s name is still a good shorthand for domesticity and good taste. That’s why the news today that her company has been acquired by Sequential Brands, the owner of Justin Bieber’s denim brand and the Franklin Mint, surprised many people.

From a business point of view, it makes logical sense, Sequential is the company that has also ended up owning the Linens-N-Things brand, which it operates as an online store, Jessica Simpson’s clothing brand, and Heelys: those sneakers with built-in roller skates that were a menace to adults last decade.

Then there’s the Franklin Mint, home of commemerative statues and dolls for every occasion, and a company that thought a framed shadowbox full of gold-plated, hologrammed state quarters was a good idea, because just gold-plating or just hologramming is not enough for these monsters.

Anyway, back to Martha Stewart. The company, which is publicly traded, was worth as much as $1 billion at its peak, but a collapse in the publishing industry followed Stewart’s imprisonment, making lifestyle magazines no longer as profitable a venture as they once were.

About half of the company’s revenues come from the magazines and other publications. The other half comes from the sale of licensed products in different store: you may remember when JCPenney and Macy’s squabbled over which retailer had the right to sell branded housewares merchandise. The empire also includes home-improvement supplies and crafting supplies, and even branded collections of pet toys and accessories.

One financial analyst told Reuters that the main advantage of merging with Sequential is that the new owners are better positioned to expand Martha Stewart Living into international markets. However, he thought that the sale price was too low, and the company would sell for more if it were sold off in parts.

Martha Stewart’s Media Empire Sold for Fraction of Its Former Value [New York Times]
Martha Stewart Living to sell itself in $353 mln deal [Reuters]