Sears on Thursday launched the Craftsman Ultimate Collection, featuring tool sets designed for mechanics that include newly redesigned, high performance ratchets, ratcheting wrenches and other items.
The new line includes sets that range in price from $319.99 to $999.99, according to a company press release.
Sears in 2017 sold its famous tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million and it's now sold at Lowe's and other retailers, though the department store was quick to assert that the Craftsman Ultimate Collection was exclusive to Sears.
Two years ago when Sears unloaded its iconic tool brand — one of the few differentiators it had left — several observers took it as a sign of just how dire its straits were.
It's true that in the deal, the embattled retailer — which is now crawling out of a bankruptcy process without much sign of life — held on to a perpetual license agreement that allows it to continue to source and sell Craftsman-branded products.
Transform Holdco, an affiliate of former Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert's hedge fund ESL Investments, earlier this month acquired Sears Holdings for $5.2 billion. That includes 223 Sears and 202 Kmart stores, along with Craftsman, Kenmore, DieHard, Sears Home Services and Sears Auto Centers.
"Sears is the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman," Peter Boutros, president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard and chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart, said in a statement, noting that this particular release, which was developed with the help of mechanics themselves, is only available at Sears.
But plenty more Craftsman tools are available elsewhere, and, in the last two years, Craftsman fans have learned that Sears is no longer necessarily the go-to for the beloved brand. In an era when exclusivity is key to differentiation and differentiation is key to sales and loyalty, it was a remarkable sellout of one of Sears' few standouts.