I was reading last night that the Lands’ End CEO was stepping down. I see this as a huge disappointment in the often confusing world of retail, mainly because the CEO, Frederica Marichionni, was charged with turning around the Lands’ End brand after its separation from Sears Holding. It was noted in the article that she was forced out for making too many changes to quickly, and losses at the company were mounting. (She was in the position for less than 2 years.)

Everyone in retail knows the numbers are down, and research will show that consumers are more readily spending on experiences than on hard or soft goods. Also, when these consumers do spend on soft goods, they can quite easily and cheaply purchase “just off the runway” looks from fast fashion retailers like Zara and H&M. That leaves department stores, especially those that target middle America, and brands like Lands’ End with the same customer base, at a real loss. What do they offer that makes them exciting, interesting, viable places to shop? Will they take the risks, adding difference and delight to their floors so to attract back these consumers or will they be status quo, chugging along and continuing to exist risk-free but also reward-free? As a vendor doing business with department stores, we love stores that take the risk on difference, newness and interest. As a consumer, I need this!

So back to Lands End’, if you want change, you have to risk the initial loss and fear to achieve the great breakthrough. You need to give a turnaround more than 2 years (which is retail calendar is really more like one year) and make the exciting inventive changes that will jolt our market back to vibrancy.

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