Lands’ End, the fashion apparel, accessories and home furnishing retailer, has never been known as a company to make a lot of waves.
Which is why it was somewhat noteworthy when the company hired Federica Marchionni, the Italian-born former head of Dolce & Gabbana’s U.S. operations, to be its new CEO in Feb. 2015.
And after a series of controversial moves — such as interviewing feminist icon Gloria Steinem for its 2016 spring catalog, then pulling that catalog in the face of outcry, or introducing new activewear and Canvas lines — she was relieved of her duties by Lands’ End’s board on Sept. 26 after only 19 months on the job.
But Retail Dive believes that Marchionni’s rocky tenure and bumpy departure are far from Lands’ End’s only problems, as the brand has had six CEOs since 2002 and still struggles with its brand image and identity as a retailer with millennials increasingly more interested in fast-fashion knockoffs.
“Success has so many parents, and failure is orphan,” Steven L. Marotta, senior vice president and senior research analyst at C.L. King & Associates, told Retail Dive. “I think that the near-term result of the plan [Marchionni] was implementing is that everyone is now trying to take themselves out of the equation and pin it on her.”
Even with Marchionni as the latest scapegoat of Lands’ End’s seemingly ongoing woes, Retail Dive believes that the retailer still faces plenty of problems.
Although Sears got rid of Lands’ End as a brand in late 2013, most of its 253 remaining retail locations still exist inside Sears stores and are obligated to rent those locations from Sears through 2019.
Lands’ End also reported a dip in second quarter revenue, down to $292 million from $312.4 million the previous year, while its retail segment net revenue fell 4.3 percent to $45.5 million and its net revenue dipped 6.9 percent to $246.4 million.
“Most stores today are suffering from too much physical square footage while trying to grow their online sales,” Dick Seesel, principal at Retailing in Focus, a retail strategy consultancy, told Retail Dive. “Lands’ End is an exception. It’s a company without enough stores, outside of its continuing presence inside Sears.”