In its bid to shave costs,Sears is reported to be shopping its Land’s End brand, but there’s a catch: The retailer wants to still sell Land’s End items in its stores.
Land’s End is being shopped to private equity firms with a $2 billion price tag, The New York Post reports. The report says Sears wants the buyer to agree to keep licensing Lands’ End products to Sears, while pursuing growth elsewhere, possibly in Europe.
Initially, Sears shares traded higher on the news, but the gains were brief, and the stock is currently down more than 2 percent. Sears' stock has more than doubled this year, making it one of the top performers in the Standard & Poor’s Index after falling sharply last year.
The report says that talks about a deal are in the early stages, and Eddie Lampert, who is the biggest shareholder of Sears Holdings, is likely to tap Goldman Sachs to run the sale.
Land’s End was a brand Lampert inherited when he merged Sears with Kmart in 2005. But with billions in losses at the Sears and Kmart retail chains, Sears has been looking to strengthen its balance sheet by selling stores, spinning off some of its smaller-format stores and reducing inventories.
But there are some doubts about whether it will be possible for the brand to fetch as much as it did when Sears purchased the preppy apparel brand for $1.86 billion.
At that time, analysts said the price tag was rich, and since then many have felt that the upscale Land’s End brand was a poor fit for Sears, especially as the Sears brand struggled in recent years and stores became rundown.
Bankers told the New York Post that a deal would be more likely in the $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion range.
Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter said in a note, he expects Sears will sell off or spin off assets in a "controlled liquidation of its chain." He expects the assets least tied to Sears' U.S. stores will go first, and Lands' End and Sears Canada are "the most separable assets" in the chain.