Lands’ End CEO Steps Down, Won’t Have To Go To Lands’ End Anymore

Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

When what your customers want are corduroys, sweaters, and the occasional work-appropriate dress, maybe trying to expand and attract more fashion-conscious customers was never going to work. Less than two years ago, Lands’ End, the retailer of preppy clothing and canvas tote bags that is not L.L. Bean, hired Federica Marchionni, the president of Dolce & Gabbana USA, to be its CEO with the goal of creating a “global lifestyle brand.”

The relationship wasn’t really a good fit from the beginning. Marchionni admitted that the only time she would shop at Lands’ End was when buying school uniforms for her son. Lands’ End kept its headquarters in Wisconsin, even during the period it was owned by Sears, but Marchionni mostly worked out of an office in New York City.

One of her goals was to create a more fashionable but classic silhouette for the company, and the Canvas collection, complete with its own separate membership program giving customers discounts and free shipping, debuted this year.

Did the new collection help transform the company into a “global lifestyle brand,” or is it just suffering from the same problems as other mid-priced clothing retailers, like Gap and pretty much every department store?

“Apparel retailers are still trying to figure things out,” a retail analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence told Bloomberg News. “Traffic is the biggest problem.” It’s an especially big problem for Lands’ End, which has very few standalone stores, and mostly still sublets space inside Sears.

Sears is closing down stores and has used its low foot traffic as a selling point in the past, pointing out that “there’s always parking at Sears.” That’s not where those upscale customers that the brand wants are going to shop.

Lands’ End Falls as CEO Steps Down After Less Than Two Years [Bloomberg News]
Lands’ End CEO Federica Marchionni Steps Down [Wall Street Journal]

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