Lowe's on Monday announced that Craftsman tools are now available for purchase, online at Lowes.com/Craftsman and in Lowe's stores nationwide. The tie-up was first announced last year.
The initial Craftsman collection at Lowe's features full mechanics tool sets starting at $69.98, tool storage chests and drawer cabinets starting at $29.99 and garage organization separates starting at $79.99, among other products, according to a company press release. Later this year, with the holidays in mind, the company plans to have a broader assortment.
It's not the first time that Craftsman has been sold outside of Sears and Kmart stores. The brand, which Black & Decker bought from Sears last year, is also available at Ace Hardware, Lowe's-owned Orchard Supply and other retailers, and that will continue, according to Lowe's.The launch comes as Sears CEO Eddie Lampert, while insisting the retail company's transformation is on track, is also contemplating selling its iconic Kenmore brand.
Although some Craftsman items have been for sale elsewhere for a while, the Lowe's tie-up is a significant departure for the popular tool brand from its Sears home base, and comes after its sale to Stanley Black & Decker last year for $900 million. In a statement on Monday, Lowe's chief customer officer Michael McDermott went so far as to call the retailer "the new go-to destination of the iconic Craftsman brand."
Many retail observers were dismayed last year that Sears would sell the brand at all and cede control of the tools, which remain a fixture in the U.S. In order to stay afloat, though, Sears Holdings has been turning to its assets in the past several years, most notably by selling its formidable real estate holdings. But that also includes its longstanding brands and brand partnerships. In addition to peeling away Craftsman, Sears is reportedly contemplating unloading Kenmore. And it's working the other way, too: last year Sears and Whirlpool announced that they are ending their 100-plus-year partnership selling the appliance manufacturer's top brands.
Indeed, while its brand spinoffs are helping its liquidity, they come with a cost. Having Lowe's as a distribution channel, in addition to giving Lowe's a boost over rival Home Depot, could serve to erode Sears' standing as a go-to tool seller.