Sears Holdings Corp.’s KCD Brands Division is partnering with Permasteel, a manufacturer of barbecue grills, patio ice chests and patio heaters, to make and sell a line of Kenmore-branded gas grills, Twice reports.
The partnership is “the first step” to licensing and leveraging Sears' venerable Kenmore household appliances brand, which earlier this month won the “Women’s Choice Award,” the struggling retailer told Twice.
Sears last month sold its iconic Craftsman line of tools for $900 million to Black & Decker, which will develop, manufacture and sell the branded products in non-Sears Holdings channels. Sears will continue to source and sell Craftsman-branded products under a perpetual license agreement.
Sears continues its effort to extract value from its most prized assets. The biggest example of that push is the spinoff of its massive property portfolio into a real estate investment trust. But its Craftsman and Kenmore lines remain hugely trusted brands, even as the retailer recedes from the American landscape — both literally and figuratively.
Craftsman is among the best known American brands ever — its trademark was first registered by Sears in 1927 — and remains a favorite among weekend tinkerers and serious grease monkeys alike. These days, though, Craftsman and Kenmore benefit Sears more through sell-offs and deals like this one with Permasteel than through direct sales to Sears' own customers.
“At this point, I think Sears Holdings has to begin to look at shedding anything of value and getting as much for it as possible,” Phil Masiello, Founder and CEO, ClicBlox, recently wrote as part of a RetailWire discussion on the Craftsman sale. “Management has destroyed the retailer to the point of no return. They failed to engage with their core customer base and allowed it to deteriorate over the last 20 years, they failed to invest in technology, failed to embrace e-commerce and failed to take advantage of the strengths they had in durable goods and capitalize on that outside of their own stores. It is a shame, but one that could have been prevented.”
Earlier this month, Sears Holdings Corp. announced a strategic restructuring effort designed to streamline operations and generate at least $1 billion in annualized cost savings (including reductions from the previously announced closure of 108 Kmart and 42 Sears stores). Sears Holdings said it will simplify its organizational structure, taking steps to consolidate corporate and support functions across Sears and Kmart and putting into place an integrated model to boost pricing, sourcing, supply chain and inventory management efficiencies. It also pledged to optimize product assortment at both retail chains, leveraging data analytics to align with customer preferences, and will “actively manage” its real estate portfolio to identify additional opportunities for reconfiguration and reduction of capital obligations.
But Sears’ holiday season results offer little hope of future improvement. Total comparable store sales for the fourth quarter declined 10.3%, with Kmart down 8% and Sears Domestic plunging 12.3%, translating to expected net losses between $635 million and $535 million.